A laser typically emits either monochromatic or dichromatic light. The development of lasers dates back to the early 1960s, and since then has rapidly grown popular, and is useful in several surgeries. Lasers have also become the most helpful gadget in orthodontics practices over the years.
To produce Laser energy, you subject a suitable medium to certain physical constraints at high energy. The medium is then exposed to an external power source to produce photons of light energy, which is then amplified to produce laser emission. The properties and characteristics of laser beams are very different from conventional white light sources in many aspects.
In a dental laser system, you deliver the light to the target tissue through either an optical fiber cable, a hollow waveguide, or an articulated arm. You can use lasers in orthodontics as a cutting or vaporizing instrument.
Types of Dental Lasers Used in Orthodontics
1. Argon Laser
In an argon laser, argon is used as the noble gas. It produces light waves of two wavelengths which are 488 nm (blue) and 514 nm (green).
These lasers are commonly used for hemorrhage control in gingival surgery, as well as for detecting cracks and decays on the surface of teeth through the transillumination technique. The wavelengths of argon gas are poorly absorbed by non-pigmented or hard tissue.
2. Diode Laser
A diode laser uses a specialized semi-conductor that produces monochromatic light when stimulated electrically. Diode lasers used in orthodontics practices emit light of a wavelength which varies approximately between 805 nm and 1064 nm.
Diode lasers are most popular because of their compact size, and relatively affordable price, but are only used for soft tissues. They are quite useful for intraoral soft tissue procedures such as gingivectomy, biopsy, impression troughing, and frenectomy.
These lasers are also used for bacterial decontamination and best teeth whitening.
3. CO2 Laser
In a CO2 laser, the gas used is Carbon dioxide. It produces light of wavelength 10,600 nm. The CO2 laser is commonly used for soft tissue surgery and is not suitable for hard tissue.
Therefore, when using a CO2 laser, the tooth structure surrounding the soft tissue must be protected during surgery. The CO2 laser is useful for rapid soft tissue removal, perfect hemostasis, and shallow depth of penetration.
4. Erbium Laser
The erbium laser is built with two different crystals, the Er: YAG (yttrium aluminum garnet crystal) and Er, Cr: YSGG (chromium sensitized yttrium scandium gallium garnet crystal).
These lasers produce light of two different wavelengths, which are 2940 nm (Er: YAG) and 2780 nm (Er, Cr: YSGG). These lasers find applications for both hard and soft tissue removal and are most commonly used for dental purposes.
The usage of this laser is anywhere a scalpel is used, including periodontal procedure, gingival contouring, biopsies, frenectomies, pre-prosthetic procedures, and more.
5. Nd: YAG Laser
Nd: YAG lasers were the first laser designed and marketed for dental use. It produces light of wavelength 1064 nm, and are mainly used for periodontal treatments.
Bacterial decontamination in tissue treated with Nd: YAG laser helps in the resolution of periodontal infection. It also can stimulate fibrin formation with more extended pulse duration settings.
These lasers can also be used for multiple soft tissue procedures such as gingivectomy, frenectomy, impression troughing, and biopsy. These lasers are also ideal for photobiomodulation procedures.
Common Uses for Laser in Orthodontics
Expose Slow Erupting Teeth
A child ready to get braces hasn’t erupted a tooth yet, or teeth are not fully exposed to place a braces bracket. In such situations, a laser is used to remove the gum tissue and reveal the truth. It eliminates the need for traditional oral surgery to make a tooth expose.
Esthetic Gingival Recontouring
Esthetic gingival recontouring or laser gum recontouring is a way of removing and reshaping excessive gum tissue with the help of a laser.
Lasers help to remove the excessive gums covering teeth and reshape what is left to bring a balance between the gum and teeth ratio for a more aesthetic smile.
There are two kinds of frenums, namely, lingual frenum and labial frenum. The lingual frenum is the piece of tissue that runs from the base of the tongue to the bottom of the lower teeth’s back.
Sometimes the size and position of lingual frenum can restrict the free movement of the tongue. The condition is called “tongue-tide.” For such a condition, you can use a laser to allow the free movement of the tongue.
The labial frenum is the tissue that goes from upper front teeth to the lips. If this tissue is long and wide, it can cause unwanted gaps between the upper teeth.
With the help of a laser, you can remove the tissue, and narrow the gaps using braces or Invisalign. The invisible braces are also available for this procedure.
Removal of Tissue Tags
Sometimes, unwanted tissue can form in the mouth. Although it might not be harmful, the appearance of it might bother some patients. It is possible to remove the tissue tags, quickly and painlessly, using a diode laser.
Reduce the Pain of Canker Sore
A canker sore also called aphthous ulcer, is a small sensitive, painful ulcer crater that forms in the mouth along the base of the gum.
It can be painful, and using orthodontic appliances against them can cause more irritation. An orthodontic laser can speed up the healing time and reduce some of the pain and soreness.
Reduce Excessive Gum Tissue for Using Appliances
Sometimes, excess gum tissue can get in the way of placing appliances, such as braces. A laser can remove extra gum to make space for the device.
Are Lasers Safe for Orthodontic Practices?
Orthodontic lasers are in use since the early ’90s and are usually safer than using instruments. Since the non-sterilization of the medical devices and apparatus can be a big issue leading to infections, the usage of lasers is always better.
Moreover, orthodontic laser treatment is exact and gentle, and can also be used for the treatment of infants and children. A laser can be used for dental purposes without worrying about the surrounding tissue or the teeth.
Lasers, although a relatively new concept in the field of orthodontics, has become widely popular in roughly a few decades.
Due to its high degree of precision, maneuverability in tight spaces, supporting tools, and multiple applications, lasers have quickly become the favorite apparatus of the dental industry. With numerous types of lasers, specially designed to suit different roles, lasers are the most versatile tool in the industry.