Confessions of a Laser Dentist
By Dr. Jacques Doueck
I want to make it clear. I love my laser, I use it every day and I would never give it up. With that being said… I need to give you some history. I have been a dentist since 1977. I was certified by the Academy of Laser Dentistry in 1998 and I have been using hard and soft tissue lasers since then. My soft tissue laser gets excellent results with periodontal (gum) disease and I use it for my CEREC one-visit crowns and onlays as well as crowns and bridges. But as far as preparing teeth for fillings for a long time my hard tissue laser was taking a back seat to my Air Abrasion to prep teeth without the need for injections.
People have high expectation. They expect laser dentistry to be painless. Unfortunately, for a long time laser technology for cavities was disappointing.
In the past when a hard tissue laser was used on enamel of molars it needed a lot of energy and my patients felt it. In contrast, from the beginning, my Air Abrasion equipment sprays a slurry of water and powder and gently and effectively cuts through the enamel without the need for anesthetic. I have always been a fan of air abrasion as a gentle way to treat molars teeth for biting surface cavities. The air abrasion handpiece blows a powerful air stream of tiny aluminum oxide particles out of its tip onto the tooth. The tiny particles bounce off the tooth and blast the decay away.
The problem with air abrasion is that excess powder and “dust” gets everywhere. The incorporation of water to make a slurry made a big change. It works like a powerwash removing graffiti from walls. I enjoy the delightful reaction of my patients. They have their fillings done with no shot, no numb lip, and knowing that their dentist is on the leading edge of technology. Air abrasion is ideally suited for Minimally Invasive dentistry which preserves the most healthy tooth structure.
Air Abrasion is an alternative to the drill and needle. I would go one step further and say that air abrasion is an alternative to the laser for prepping teeth for cavities with no shots and no drilling.
State-of-the-Art: Lasers are here to stay!!! We are currently using the Powerlase™ for treating cavities with no shots . This laser has solved all the problems of sensitivity that we had with previous generations of hard tissue lasers. In speaking with other dentists that are using the Powerlase™ the consensus is that the new technology lasers are more comfortable. The Powerlase™ has really lived up to it’s claims.