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Q&A with Dr. Jeff: what is laser dentistry?

Posted on February 2, 2023 in Healthy You

Woman getting dental work done

Of all the dental trends that pop up, laser dentistry might be the most futuristic. But is laser dentistry safe and effective?

Dr. Jeffrey Chaffin, chief dental officer at Delta Dental of Iowa, answers top questions about this dental trend.

Q: What is laser dentistry?

Dr. Chaffin: Laser dentistry is an emerging treatment that essentially uses a laser to replace the dental drill and/or a scalpel blade. The same dental procedure is performed, but it relies on a laser rather than the traditional tool.

Q: What are the benefits of laser dentistry over traditional dentistry? Any downsides?

Dr. Chaffin: One of the biggest benefits of laser dentistry is comfort. Patients report less pain and discomfort with the use of lasers. Plus, healing times seem to be faster when a laser is used compared with traditional instruments. There is also a lower chance of the patient developing a bacterial infection and having tissue damage when a laser is used. 

The biggest concern over lasers is the additional cost. The laser “machines” are expensive, and dentists are likely to pass some of that cost back to the patient.

Q: Is laser dentistry safe?

Dr. Chaffin: Yes, laser dentistry is safe. Protective eyewear for the patient and clinical staff is very important to prevent any eye injury.

Q: How can I tell whether my dentist is a credible laser dentistry provider?

Dr. Chaffin: Before treating patients with a laser, dentists normally go through significant additional training. Patients should feel empowered to talk about that training with their dentist, so don’t hesitate to ask before undergoing a laser procedure.

Q: What types of dental procedures can be done via laser dentistry?

Dr. Chaffin: One of the biggest uses of lasers is to treat gum problems. Lasers can recontour the gums to be more cosmetic and functional. Another common use for lasers is to treat “tongue tied” children – where the laser is used to cut a small piece of tissue called the frenum under the tongue. Additional uses for lasers in dentistry include finding cavities, filling cavities and teeth whitening.

Q: Does laser dentistry cost more than traditional dentistry?

Dr. Chaffin: Patients should have conversations with their dentist about the cost of laser dentistry. Usually, new technology tends to cost more, so knowing the cost before you undergo the procedure is important to prevent any billing surprises.

Q: What patients are particularly good candidates for laser dentistry?

Dr. Chaffin: Some of the best candidates are those with gum disease who want reduced recovery time with less pain.