Lasers in dentistry and oral surgery

Lasers in Oral Surgery

Use of Lasers in Oral Surgery

The use of lasers in maxillofacial surgery has been fast developing, and of enormous interest to surgeons and patients alike. Since the invention of the ruby laser in 1960, the application of laser light has been quick to grow in oral surgery. The most recent advances in laser science have also included more cost-effective and ergonomical tools for surgeons, which has further boosted their use—as though the exsiting benefits weren’t enough.

All light travels in waves of different frequencies and length, and a laser is a concentration of a specific type of light wave. To the naked eye, sunlight appears white when in fact it’s a mix of multiple colors and wavelengths. Lasers use radiation to create a narrow beam of one concentrated type of wave, which produces a pin-point line of energy. In medicine, since the 1960s lasers have become one of the most effective ways to make less invasive and precise incisions, and to induce coagulation (the heat-based sealing of exposed blood vessels when making incisions).

 

Lasers in maxillofacial surgery

Though its invention took place back in the 1960s, it wasn’t until the 1990s that lasers were approved by the FDA for oral surgery, first for soft-tissue and then for bone-related procedures. The need for precision in maxillofacial surgery is undeniable, and surgeons have been quick to take advantage of new fast-developing laser technologies since.

Lasers can be used to remove oral cysts and tumors, as well as cut into gum or bone tissue in surgeries such as the placement of a dental implant. Lasers are also commonly associated with tooth whitening procedures as well, but it is in oral surgery that they have made the biggest difference for patients’ oral health and access to surgical care.

Lasers in Oral Surgery

Other than precision, what do laser surgeries offer?

Let’s work with the same example of a dental implant, which is frequently a two-stage surgery. First, the implant is placed and sutured up, then left to “osseointegrate” (or bind to the bone) before the gums are re-opened and the abutment and crown are added. Particularly in the second stage of dental implant surgery, lasers can provide near-bloodless access to the bone because of their natural effect in retarding blood flow.

Lasers can also be used in the sterilization of or removal of dead and diseased tissue around a site of surgery. And, with lasers providing this degree of sterilization, precision and blood coagulation, you are sure to heal faster.

 

The past and the future of lasers in oral surgery

The advances of laser technologies and their application in maxillofacial surgery continue after less than three decades of exponential growth. The introduction of lasers in oral surgery was originally focused on the removal of lesions—many of which were previously considered untreatable, or treatable only with a low rate of success. Since the early 1990s, lasers have become central in our field, and new wavelengths of lasers continue to open new options.

We use state-of-the-art technologies at the Center for Facial and Oral Surgery, and are always happy to discuss what will be used in your surgery. We enjoy the benefits of many quickly developing technologies for maxillofacial surgeons. And, ultimately, it’s the patient who benefits from this exciting growth.