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Posted 11/10/2016 in Category 1

Biolase Featured in The Star Newspaper

Biolase Featured in The Star Newspaper

A visit to the dentist is a walk in the park these days. Helen Grange looks at the wonderful new world of laser dentistry.

The long needle, the stingy injection, the drilling …. we’re all familiar with the unpleasant dentist’s chair experience. But while we were sitting there enduring, dentistry was evolving and today there’s a laser machine that can perform all these nasty little procedures, in most cases without anaesthetic and without pain, without drilling and vibration, and often, with far more effective results. Dental procedures are also faster and easier, with better healing.

Enter the WaterLase iPlus Dental Laser, made by California-based dental laser manufacturer Biolase, and distributed by SciVision Medical. New to the South African market, this latest version of the Waterlase, the iPlus, presents the latest alternative to traditional dental tools. It can do a whole raft of procedures, including prepare a cavity for filling, root canal preparation, and removing diseased bone and gum tissue (gingivitis, periodontitis and periimplantitis – successful treatment of failing implants!). Patients have little to no pain or discomfort after using Waterlase in surgery. Surgery is faster and patient recovery better with no swelling, bruising, analgesia or antibiotics needed in most cases.
The first dentist in Johannesburg to use the new WaterLase iPlus laser is Dr Sam Thandar in Rosebank, who has already treated numerous patients with it. One is Laurence van Niekerk, who had a filling done. “The anxiety was worse than the procedure. There was no injection, and no pain. There was no drilling sound or vibration, just a faint popping sound and fine water spray, which felt a bit cold, but that’s all,” he says. Essentially, the WaterLase sprays a mix of water and air with laser energy through a special handpiece, and simultaneously the laser energy causes the water molecules to explode, cleaning away diseased tissue. In other words, the water molecules are used with the stream of laser energy that cuts the tissue or tooth, literally vaporizing it. The popping sound is the water molecules exploding. There is no heat, vibration or pressure, and the water cools down the surface (tooth structure, bone or tissue) that is being vaporized and the laser handpiece itself never comes into contact with the body. “The laser energy is emitted from the handpiece with the tip held just millimeters away from the tissue. And the laser is very precise, so it gives the dentist more control. It replaces a lot of surgical work that we used to use a scalpel for, particularly for any kind of gum reshaping or surgery, because there is no bleeding and almost no post-operative pain or swelling,” says Dr Thandar.

How does a laser eliminate pain? Basically, the laser pulses at such high speed that it ‘tricks’ the nerves inside the tooth or gum area being worked on. Also, the pain associated with the drill is mostly due to heat and vibration. “There is no heat or vibration with a laser, so there is no need for anaesthesia in many cases. This is a huge advantage when you’re working with children,” explains Peter Doubell, CEO of SciVision.

Here’s a look at how it works:

The laser is particularly useful in treating gum infections and disease, because it is able to remove bacteria in the gums without the need to surgically cut or raise flaps in the gums. The laser kills germs on the spot, disinfecting the area being worked on. “The laser’s ability to disinfect, kill and remove bacteria is a huge benefit, because there is less chance of infection and less need for antibiotics and other drugs. Laser Dentists can cut and shape teeth, bone and gum tissue with far more control, and with much less trauma and pain,” says Peter Doubell. Thus, the WaterLase is also ideal for smile make-overs – fixing a gummy smile (gingivectomy) and for crown lengthening (exposing more tooth for crowning).

Because there is little or no need for anaethesia when using the Waterlase, most or the entire dental work can be done in a single visit. Furthermore, because the laser makes doing many procedures easier, dentists do not need to refer every complex case to specialists, thereby saving significant time and effort for the patient.

Another type of laser for soft tissue and healing, called the EPIC diode laser (also a Biolase product), is also being used to do many procedures like contour gums (smile design), remove growths, treat aphthous ulcers & cold sores, disinfect root canals and de-sensitise teeth. The diode laser emits low-level energy, which promotes faster tissue repair and wound-healing, according to Dr Thandar.

This EPIC laser is also popularly used for teeth whitening procedures. Again, the laser wand is held over the teeth, which have been smeared with a special laser bleaching gel. The entire procedure is completed in less than 30 minutes. “The huge advantage for Teeth Whitening with the EPIC diode laser is there is normally no sensitivity. The diode laser is also excellent for pain relief in general. So we use it too for temporomandibular joint dysfunction or discomfort from clenching or teeth grinding, which people in stressful jobs often suffer from. The diode laser gives them instant relief,” says Dr Thandar.

Dental lasers have taken dentistry to an entirely new level, and who knows where it is going while you get your next painless filling done…