All forms of light are electromagnetic waves of varying lengths. It is this “wave length” which determines the colour of the light. Laser light is an artificial form of light, and all its waves are identical (that is to say, of the same wave length and phase). Laser light does not disperse in the way in which ordinary light sources do. For this reason the energy concentration of laser light is much higher than that of other light forms. It is this concentration that enables laser light to penetrate the skin or mucous membranes and act on oral tissues.
Lasers have been used in medicine and dentistry for more than 20 years. Only recently, however, has the advent of low-level laser therapy (soft lasers) made it possible to use laser light for the treatment of painful condition in the teeth, the mouth and the face as it does not give rise to any heat generation.
Low-level lasers are basically IR diode lasers formed from minute chips of gallium arsemide, not larger than a grain of salt. The semiconductor laser diodes have proved their reliability in everyday products such as office laser printers and home compact disc players.
Benefits to the patient: Low level laser therapy (LLLT) offers new treatment options that were not available to the dentist earlier. It serves as an adjunct to the regular treatment, simplifying some procedures, saving time in some and enhancing the outcome in many others.
LLLT provides immediate relief from severe pain. This function is temporary and the cause of dental pain should be found and proper treatment done for permanent relief. Teeth sensitive to heat and cold due to abrasions or attritions are treated for two minutes and the sensitivity is completely removed.
Similar are the results in hyperaemic teeth. In severe cases, more than one sitting may be needed. Oedema due to infection gets reduced within hours after the application. The normal medication has to continue.
LLLT, when used as an adjunct to root canal therapy, reduces the patient’s discomfort and treatment time. Tooth tenderness is reduced drastically. The patient can start biting with the involved tooth faster as compared to other modes of treatment.
LLLT, when used immediately after tooth-extraction, prevents bleeding as the bleeding stops on the dental chair itself. There is less post-extraction pain and faster healing at the extraction site. This is of importance especially for patients of diabetes and hypertension. LLLT, when used along with the normal treatment of bleeding and swollen gums or mobile teeth, improves the prognosis by better and quicker reduction in inflammation and faster healing (due to increased collagen formation). Results have been highly positive when LLLT has been used in deep cavities, before the filling was done.