The sci-fi movies we all grew up on have now come to life in the world of modern dentistry. Star Trek, Star Wars, and other movies where humans explored new planets and solar systems had lasers all throughout them. Lasers were used as weapons, both for the ships and the people. Lasers cut through walls, scanned areas for life forms, and even helped make people who were injured well again. That is that part that has come to life these days. Lasers in medicine have rapidly become a prominent field of study and of practical use.
In dentistry, laser use is an emerging area of interest. Though lasers have been around for almost a century, we are still just cracking the surface of what they can be used for. Still, the thought that this thing from our comics and movies is really here and helping us achieve a higher level of dental health is both amazing and exciting. What will be next? What is the next technological wonder from those amazing stories that will find its way to us? Only time will tell, and frankly, we can’t wait until it does.
Where Did Lasers Come From?
The word laser is actually an acronym for “Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation.” We can thank one of the greatest minds to have ever lived for discovering the idea of lasers. Albert Einstein developed the theoretical framework for lasers in 1917. Even with the early theoretical development of the laser, the first real laser was not developed until 1960.
That year, Dr. T. H. Maiman built the first laser using a ruby rod and high-intensity flashlamps. This laser generated a laser that was near infrared power. The laser was also red due to the use of the ruby rod in its construction. Not long after that first laser, scientists were able to greatly increase the intensity by using a glass rod that was dipped in neodymium. By 1961, research into how lasers reacted with biological matter was at a breakneck pace.
The early lasers were found to be useful in retinal surgery, but not much else. It was not until 1964, when Bell Laboratories developed and launched a continuous wave gas laser, that lasers were found to have other surgical capabilities. The CO2 laser (as it is called) was the most powerful laser developed to that point. For a comparison, the first surgical laser developed in 1961 was 694 nm in strength, while the CO2 laser was measured at 10,600 nm in strength – a tremendous jump in power in only three years. The CO2 laser was found to be very effective in cutting biological material. The power of the laser allowed it to basically vaporize the material that it was cutting. This led to precise cuts and minimal blood loss – two things that are preferable during a surgical procedure. Though, it would be another 30 years before lasers would make their way into the field of dentistry.
What Are Dental Lasers Used For?
Today’s lasers are much more versatile than the early lasers were. In the early days, lasers were good at getting rid of material, but not much else. Today’s lasers are able to vaporize biological material, “cure” or harden a dental filling, or activate the whitening properties in a bleaching gel. All of these tasks seem to be uniquely suited to the application of dental lasers. Hellertown Dental Group has incorporated the use of lasers in almost every aspect of our dental practice. We use them for our gum reshaping procedures. The lasers give a clean cut, with little bleeding and almost no pain. Lasers are also a part of our gum disease treatment process. The power of our dental lasers allows us to vaporize the bacteria, and the plaque that produces it, with no pain to you, the patient. We have even begun to use a laser to help strengthen the efficacy of our teeth whitening procedures. A powerful laser is used to activate the Zoom whitening gel we use.
Dental lasers are the future of the field of dentistry. Their uses are seemingly endless. The fact that the pain, amount of trauma, and blood loss are all less make them ideal for almost every surgical procedure you could think of. Call Hellertown Dental Group today if you are interested in pain-free dental procedures that will leave your mouth looking and feeling great. You can reach our Hellertown, PA office at 484-858-0949. You can also use our online form to schedule your appointment.