There are many different types of lasers used in dentistry, and at Winning Smile we primarily use a diode laser. To understand the way the diode laser (also known as a soft tissue laser) works, it is important to understand the bacterial process that leads to periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is a bacterial infection of the gums.
What Causes Gum Disease?
With poor oral hygiene, bacteria start to form colonies called plaque biofilm, which are most commonly formed at the gumline. If this biofilm is not disrupted through brushing, flossing, or a professional cleaning, it will continue to mature and move down underneath the gum line and over time the plaque may harden and form calculus (tartar), which can only be removed with professional dental instruments.
What Happens When Gum Disease is Left Untreated?
Throughout this bacterial process the body tries to fight off this infection by triggering the immune system and sending white blood cells to the affected area. By increasing the blood flow to this particular area, circulation becomes stagnant and leaves the gums puffy, inflamed, and bleeding. Without dental hygiene intervention, the disease process and the immune response continues, which ultimately leads to tissue and bone destruction.
Depending on where the patient is in the disease process, our hygienists will recommend a type of cleaning that is suited for their needs. The options include: a prophylaxis procedure, where the gum tissue is generally healthy, a gingivitis therapy procedure, where most tissue is inflamed but no bone loss is evident, or a scaling and root planing procedure where tissues are inflamed and bone loss is evident.
Amazing Laser Dentistry
The diode laser is excellent as an adjunctive to treat both gingivitis and periodontitis because the diode laser emits a concentrated light energy that kills unhealthy bacteria found underneath the gum tissue. This is due to the fact that the laser’s wavelength is attracted to melanin and hemoglobin found in soft tissue. This means that the laser’s energy interacts strongly with inflamed tissue (dark red colored gums) and less strongly with healthy tissue (coral pink colored gums).
Lasers can be used to eliminate the biofilm both before and after dental treatment. Preprocedural laser use can reduce the bacteria and act like a mouth rinse, but instead of reducing the bacteria in the oral cavity, the laser reduces bacteria underneath the gum tissue where the hygienists use their instruments.
Benefits of Using the Diode Laser
When the biofilm has invaded the gum pocket, the diode laser can be used post-procedurally to collect the diseased biofilm and stimulate the tissue to heal and regenerate.
Not only can lasers be used to decontaminate the gum tissue around the teeth, but they can also be used to help treat cold sores and canker sores that can be found inside the mouth and around the lips. In addition to reducing pain and discomfort, the diode laser will promote healing of the lesion. Traditionally, these types of lesions take 7-10 days to heal, however with the use of the laser they will shrink throughout the day and will typically crust over 24-48 hours following treatment.
We are excited to be implementing the diode laser into our dental hygiene procedures at Winning Smile. If you have any questions regarding the diode laser, feel free to contact our office or ask us during your upcoming appointment.