(01/09/14) - Laser, or drill? That is the question more and more dentists are asking.
Studies show up to 40 million Americans avoid seeing the dentist because of anxiety and fear. They often pay a high price - gum disease and/or tooth loss.
The sound of a dental drill can send chills down your spine, but many dentists are swapping the drill for the laser.
"They appreciate the fact that there's less pain, less swelling, a quicker healing time," says Periodontist, Dr. Christine Hayashi.
The Waterlase can be used for many dental procedures including filling cavities, performing root canals, and removing teeth or gum tissue.
"Small procedures, you know, in a few days, you may not have even noticed that we did anything," Hayashi says.
Teeth contain water. When the laser makes contact with a tooth, it excites the water molecules, allowing it to cut through. The laser keeps the tooth hydrated and protects it from heat, so there is no pain.
Used on a patient's gums, the laser vaporizes the tissue. There is less bleeding, swelling, and damage to the surrounding area.
To fix Teri Pesta's receding gums, her periodontist used a laser to transfer tissue, filling in sparse areas of gum.
Teri says she has had the procedure done both ways. The first time, she did not have the laser, but for her most recent procedure, she did, "I would say this time there was, um, absolutely no pain at all."
Most dentists do not charge their patients any extra for using the laser. It actually saves the dentists time because they can get through procedures more quickly.