Dental lasers have come a long way since their introduction in the 1960s. Over the ensuing decades, lasers (short for Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation) have been used for various dental applications. Soft tissue applications include removing overgrown tissue or reshaping gums, while hard tissue applications include preparing cavities and removing old restorations.
Benefits of laser dentistry
Lasers vaporize target materials using light energy, to turn solids and liquids into gas. They make many common dental procedures much more comfortable for patients, often eliminating pain and the need for anesthesia. Dental lasers also decrease procedure time, helping make practices more efficient and profitable. Yet there are vast differences in the way different types of lasers operate and perform, and what procedures they can be used for — with some being much more reliably anesthesia-free and pain-free than others.
Advances in dental lasers technology
The first all-tissue lasers were erbium lasers, which use an erbium crystal to produce a laser beam at a wavelength of 2.7 or 2.9 microns. This wavelength cuts enamel by vaporizing water within the tooth and chipping the enamel off. The frustration with erbium lasers is that chipping enamel away is slow and not reliably anesthesia-free.
The emergence of the all-tissue CO2 laser was a game changer in laser dentistry. It provides a major advancement over erbium lasers, producing a wavelength that is more efficient and effective for both hard and soft tissue procedures. Solea® is the only all-tissue 9.3 micron CO2 laser in the market. Its wavelength is efficiently absorbed in both water & hydroxyapatite, which together constitute 97 percent of tooth structure. This allows for faster and more precise cutting. Unlike erbium, there is no ‘chipping’; the dentist simply directs the beam and vaporizes the tooth structure.
“The trick is to vaporize only the target material, without heating anything around it,” explains Convergent Dental CEO Michael Cataldo. “This is determined by how efficiently a wavelength of light is absorbed into the target material. The more efficiently it is absorbed, the more efficiently it can vaporize the target material without affecting surrounding tissue. Efficient absorption is why Solea works so much faster than erbium lasers.”
Solea technology delivers significant benefits:
- Blood-free/Suture Free. Soft tissue surgeries can be done without an injection, bleeding or sutures which puts many new procedures within reach of the average general dentist. This is great for patients who love the unique experience and would rather not be referred out. It is also great for dentists who can add new procedures to their repertoire, generating significant additional revenue in less time.
- Anesthesia-free. Anesthesia-free dentistry offers an improved patient experience, and creates significant time savings. These efficiencies enable the typical Solea dentists to perform more procedures each day without feeling like they are working any harder.
“When you can work without anesthesia for cavity preps, it’s much more efficient,” explains Mr. Cataldo. “For every injection the dentists avoid, they save 10 minutes or more. If they do twelve injections a day, that means they’re getting back two hours every day. And, they can work on all four quadrants of the patient’s mouth in one visit. That results in higher patient acceptance, less chair time off for the patient, and more money for the dentist.”
- Pain-free. During a Solea procedure, the majority of patients feel nothing or a cool feeling within their mouth. “At the end of the day, this technology is a game changer for both patients and practitioners because we take away what patients fear most about going to the dentist, the needle and drill.,” said Mr. Cataldo.
While lasers have been a part of dental practices for years, new innovations have resulted in a newer breed of dental lasers. The Solea 9.3 µm CO2 all-tissue laser performs differently due to its unique wavelength. This technology enables dentists to reliably eliminate anesthesia, bleeding, and pain from procedures.