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Embracing Lasers in Everyday Dentistry: The Path Forward

 

If you’ve been curious about the potential of lasers in dental practice but haven’t yet made the leap, you’re not alone. Many share your curiosity and apprehension about integrating lasers into their daily routines. Understanding laser dentistry history may help you transition into a confident laser user.

A Brief History of Dental Lasers

In 1957, Dr. Gordon Gould at Columbia University coined the acronym “LASER” (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation). Theodore Maiman developed the first laser in 1960, which emitted a red beam from a ruby crystal. It wasn’t until 1989 that the FDA approved the first Nd:YAG, marking the beginning of a new era in dentistry.

Lasers have been used for soft tissue procedures ever since. Millions of patients have valued faster recovery and lower pain from laser treatments. Now hard tissue lasers promise even greater versatility in your practice.

Current Laser Technologies in Dentistry

Today, several types of lasers are available for dental use. Each laser type offers specific advantages tailored to your needs:

- Diode Lasers: These are the most commonly used lasers in dental practices. The lower cost is the main driver. They are used for soft tissue procedures and come in various wavelengths, typically ranging from 808nm to 1064nm.

- Nd:YAG Lasers: Are mostly used for periodontal therapies because of their cutting and coagulating capabilities.

- CO2 and Erbium Lasers: These lasers can be used for both soft and hard tissue procedures. They are highly efficient and offer modes that reduce potential collateral damage.

Barriers to Mainstream Adoption

Despite the benefits, laser use isn't as mainstream as it could be. There are three reasons for this. I expect that the first is the most compelling but, all three are factors.

1. Education and Training: Many dental schools do not include rigorous laser training in their curriculums. Graduates are left unfamiliar when they start caring for patients. Cost-effective online training programs bridge this gap to providing accessible education to practitioners. Imagine having the knowledge and confidence to integrate lasers into your practice effectively.

2. Cost: High costs can deter new dentists from investing in lasers. When faced with massive student debt, new tech is often left on the back burner.

Diode lasers are more affordable and can serve as an entry point. Diodes often pave the way for more advanced investments as your practice grows.

3. Integration with Practice Dynamics: Dentists need to choose lasers that fit seamlessly into their practice. A little training is crucial to making informed decisions about which laser to adopt. Knowing which laser will enhance your specific practice can make all the difference.

The Future of Lasers in Dentistry

To make lasers an everyday tool in our dental offices, we need to focus on several key areas:

1. Enhanced Education: Increasing the number of dental schools offering comprehensive laser training. Happy to help if you know anyone at a dental school. Plus promoting online courses can help more dentists become proficient in laser use. This shared knowledge can empower us all.

2. Research and Evidence-Based Protocols: More research is needed to establish evidence-based protocols demonstrating the predictable results of laser treatments. Having clear, reliable guidelines can give us the confidence to use lasers effectively.

3. Technological Advancements: Innovations like blue laser technologies are in development. They promise to remove bonded restorations. Another developing piece of tech is a dye that absorbs laser energy. These advancements may expand laser dentistry applications, offering new solutions to old problems.

4. Cost Reduction: Lasers are now more affordable than ever but, some still cost a lot. Expanding procedures and tech updates will drive lower costs in the next few years. As we see costs continue to lower the barrier to entry will decrease further.

Moving Forward Together

Embracing laser dentistry is about enhancing patient outcomes. Lasers are an indispensable tool and will only increase that value over time. A little training before you buy can help you make informed decisions and amazing patient outcomes.

Start today pushing the boundaries and making lasers as common as a dental bib. Together, we can improve dental care and patient outcomes.

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