Do you remember a time when lasers were something you only saw in science fiction movies? That day (decade, really) has long since passed. Today, laser technology is playing an increasingly important real-life role in all areas of medical and dental practices, including orthodontics. Recent advances in orthodontics include incorporating laser technology to accomplish a diverse set of important goals, from improving overall oral hygiene to reducing orthodontic treatment time. In this article, we share our top insights into why laser technology is important to the future of orthodontics.
Meet the Orthodontic Diode Laser
The diode laser represents one of the most exciting recent advances in orthodontics technology. This futuristic-sounding device makes short work of formerly complex and sometimes problematic orthodontic techniques.
Today’s orthodontic diode laser devices are small and compact, portable and handheld – many are no larger or longer than your average ballpoint pen! Yet they can accomplish some truly remarkable things, making it an important part of the future of orthodontics.
What Is Laser Treatment?
A laser is essentially just a highly focused beam of light. With such an intense focus, a light beam can function like a surgical instrument to speed up orthodontic treatments and accelerate healing times.
While laser treatment in medical fields has been in use for many years now, new applications are discovered nearly every day. New uses for laser technology in dentistry and orthodontics have been developed over the past few years. Laser technology can be particularly beneficial for children, tweens and teens who have a lower tolerance for sitting still during treatment.
Benefits of Lasers
Laser technology offers a number of important oral health benefits over traditional orthodontic approaches to soft tissue (gum) management.
- Reduces bleeding at the treatment site(s)
- Keeps overall healing time to a minimum.
- Offers a minimally invasive treatment option.
- Provides deeply customized treatment for each patient’s needs.
- Precision treatment preserves healthy teeth and tissues.
- Reduces threat of post-treatment bacterial infection.
- Supports tissue and bone regeneration at the stem cell level.
- Quickly treats inflammation and pain from a number of oral health issues.
What Are Orthodontic Lasers Used For?
There is no doubt that we have only begun to scratch the surface of what lasers can be used to achieve in orthodontics. Here are some of the most exciting orthodontic techniques that now incorporate laser technology:
- The emergence of wisdom teeth or other erupting molars can quickly become complicated and even potentially dangerous when the tooth fails to fully erupt. This can leave a flap of skin called the “operculum” that partially covers the erupting tooth. This flap is an area that easily retains bacteria and food particles, eventually causing an infection. Laser technology can neatly excise the operculum quickly in a procedure called the “operculectomy.”
- Gingivitis and periodontal disease impacts as many as one-third of adults today. This is driving increased demand for simple, effective treatment to address inflamed, infected mouth and gum tissue. Laser technology can address bacterial infection, remove plaque calculus and infected tissue, stimulate blood flow to the area and help tissue cells regenerate quickly and cleanly.
- The papilla is the name for the small bits of visible gum tissue in between each tooth. Sometimes these papilla may be overly visible and patients want cosmetic reshaping. Laser technology can easily accomplish this.
- In orthodontics, papilla reshaping is most commonly done after orthodontic treatment is complete and the gum tissue doesn’t reduce in size to it’s pre-treatment shape . Inflamed or infected papilla can be quickly and cleanly reshaped with a diode laser.
- The mouth contains several bands of muscle tissue called frenums. These help the mouth, teeth and tongue function optimally. If a frenum is too tight, this can cause problems with tooth movement, bite alignment and jaw health. Laser technology can be used to address frenum-based movement restriction in the mouth with a minimum of recovery downtime.
- TADS, or temporary anchorage devices, are a useful tool to assist certain tooth movements during orthodontic treatment. But the mouth is an ever-changing system and overgrowth of tissues (“mobile mucosa”) can cause TADS to become covered up. Laser treatment can easily remove tissue that grows over the TAD with a minimum of discomfort.
Lesion/Mouth Sore Treatment.
- While orthodontic technology and hardware as a whole is advancing rapidly, there are still cases where hardware installation can cause a temporary lesion or sore to develop. Often this is caused where there is friction from hardware that rubs against the sensitive tissues of the inner cheek or inside lips. Laser diode technology can be used to treat mouth sores, cold sores and orthodontic lesions with little recovery downtime.
- Perhaps the best known and most widely applied use of laser technology today is simple teeth whitening. This is one of the most popular cosmetic procedures in the country.
About Drs. Nease & Higginbotham
Dr. Phil Higginbotham and Dr. Eric Nease have been providing orthodontic care at Nease & Higginbotham Orthodontics since 1973. Along with Dr. Alex Thomas, they deliver fun and family-friendly yet cutting-edge orthodontic care to the upstate area. Nease & Higginbotham Orthodontics was voted Best of Spartanburg in 2019 by the readers of the Spartanburg Herald-Journal.
The doctors maintain three office locations in Gaffney, Duncan and Spartanburg, for the convenience of their patients, many of whom are families with busy, hectic lives! To learn more and schedule an initial consultation for yourself or your child, visit Dr. Nease today!
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2455 E. Main Street
Spartanburg, SC 29307
Phone: (864) 579-7700
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