By Dr. David Schlussel, DDS
The word laser stands for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation”. Lasers have been one of the greatest scientific inventions of the 20th century. Initially developed in the 1960’s, lasers have sprung up in almost every aspect of daily life. They have a great range of applications and are used in optical disk drives, laser printers, and barcode scanners; DNA sequencing instruments, fiber-optic and free-space optical communication; laser surgery and skin treatments; cutting and welding materials; military and law enforcement devices — the list of its applications are endless.
The application that interests me personally is its use in dentistry. Just like there are individualized hammers used in construction, carpentry and demolition, there are also many different types of lasers used in dentistry. And just like each hammer has its application and use, so too lasers have their individual applications (with occasional crossover from one type to the other). Some lasers can be used on hard tissue, like teeth, to fix cavities while others work on soft tissue to treat gums or for taking biopsies. Yet another usage of lasers is to smooth excess or diseased bone.
Some of these types of lasers are Carbon Dioxide, Nd:YAG, Diode and Erbium lasers, each with their own excellent properties. Different manufacturers also have different operating parameters for each of their lasers. No one laser is a magic bullet to be used for all procedures.
One laser that is taking off in popularity is the Nd:YAG laser. This laser is used in particular to treat periodontal disease. The properties of this laser are such that they have a deep penetration into the tissue that allows it to affect deeper tissue that cannot be reached. The human body, on average, is made up of approximately 60% water and laser energy that is absorbed by water will cause vaporization of the soft tissue that is being treated. This is prevented with Nd:YAG lasers because they are not absorbed by water. The Nd:YAG laser energy is absorbed by darker colored substances. This is significant because one of the main bacteria involved in periodontal disease, Porphyromonas gingivalis, is pigmented in dark colors. This makes the Nd:YAG laser like a guided smart bomb targeted to kill the main cause of the disease.
There are several companies that manufacture Nd:YAG lasers. One company, Millennium Dental Technologies, has manufactured a laser called the “Periolase MVP-7” laser. This laser was designed with one purpose in mind: to treat periodontal disease around teeth (and the equivalent around implants). Because of the unique properties of the Nd:YAG laser, it is perfectly suited to treat periodontal disease. Only diseased tissue is affected without collateral damage to healthy tissue. This allows the Periolase to treat periodontal disease in a very precise manner without adversely affecting healthy tissue. The procedure performed with the Periolase is called LANAP, which is an acronym for Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure. This is also known as LAR, Laser Assisted Regeneration. This procedure has the world’s first ever FDA clearance for True Regeneration™! During LANAP, the laser helps the body create new root surface, bone and the ligament to attach the tooth to the bone. This is all done without having to add one foreign agent such as bone or growth factors to the affected area.c
There are several major benefits to treating periodontal disease with LANAP using the Periolase. First, there is no scalpel involved. This allows dentists to preserve more tissue, keeping what we want and only removing the diseased tissue. The laser is able to microscopically dissect the unwanted tissue from the tissue that is needed for healing.
Next, there is no suturing involved. Because the tissue is not opened up, there is no need for suturing and that translates to less postoperative discomfort. In addition, because there are no sutures, there is no place for harmful bacteria and plaque to accumulate which translates into faster, more comfortable healing. Most patients go back to work the next day and report little pain or swelling.
This is a fascinating procedure that is taking the dentistry world by storm and helping patients keep their teeth longer and mouths healthier. To learn more about LANAP and the Periolase, you can visit www.trueregeneration.com or contact our office.
Rechavia Dental Center is located at 15 Ibn Gevirol Street Jerusalem