While general dentistry is often sufficient for restoring teeth, endodontics covers more severe dental issues. These include teeth damaged by trauma, as well as severely decayed or infected teeth. Before your tooth can’t be restored by a crown or filling alone, an endodontist specializes in saving them.
What is Endodontics?
Endodontics is a specialized branch of dentistry dealing with dental pulp and the tissues surrounding the roots of the tooth. To break down the meaning of the term, “endo” is Greek for “inside” and “odont” is the Greek word for “tooth”. Often, endodontics and root canal treatment are considered synonymous. However, Endodontists do much more than perform root canals.
Endodontists are dental specialists who have completed at least two years of advanced training following dental school. Although they may do multiple root canals daily, they also address traumatic gum decay with various endodontic treatment methods. They can even place dental implants.
Some general dentists perform root canals, but on a much smaller scale. When you want to save your natural teeth, an endodontist is equipped with the latest technologies and techniques to provide you the best outcome and the fastest healing. One of these advancements is laser-assisted endodontic treatment.
What is Laser-Assisted Endodontics?
To best understand what laser-assisted endodontics is, it’s helpful to understand the purpose of a root canal and the steps involved in the process. The primary goal of a root canal procedure is to rid your tooth’s pulp of infection and protect it from future infection. The steps involved include:
In laser-assisted endodontics, Endodontists use intense-focus light beams to create an access cavity, remove the decayed tissue, clean and disinfect the cavity and shape the canal before filling. Approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), this procedure is the wave of the future for endodontics.
How are Lasers Relative to Endodontic Treatments?
Conventional, mechanical endodontic processes are relatively limited and time-consuming, compared to laser methods. For instance, traditional hand or powered endodontic tools can’t always contact all surfaces within the root canal. This means that 100% removal of decayed or infected tissue for every procedure performed may be unlikely. This is where lasers for endodontic treatments can up the ante for root canals and their success rates.
How is Laser Treatment Relative to Tooth Decay and Root Canals?
When endodontists do a root canal, they uncover a layer of debris along the inside walls of the root of the tooth. This is known as the smear layer. Removal of this layer is essential for endodontic success. The conventional method of using irrigating solutions to remove debris can’t always come in contact with irregularities in the walls of the root canal.
A laser dentist can not only reach these areas more readily, but also offers enhanced detection of bacteria and definition of treatment for endpoints. These advantages serve to determine where bacterial deposits remain and where further treatment is necessary. Therefore, laser dental treatment is proving to be highly promising as an adjunct treatment to conventional endodontics.
What is the Future for Laser Dentistry?
Although the adoption rate of lasers by dentists may already be as high as 50%, this rate is expected to rise significantly based on future affordability and accessibility of laser dental care. As the price of more advanced and efficient equipment goes down, the higher the adoption rate of dentists will go.
In turn, this will make laser dentistry more accessible across the board. More impactful for the successful future of laser dental treatment, however, are its own excellent clinical outcomes. Positive results will serve as a strong impetus for continuing research and development in laser dentistry technology, allowing endodontists to provide even more improved techniques.
From the simplest to the most complex dental procedures, laser treatment is currently a viable option for almost any patient. As affordability of more advanced technology improves, so will laser dentistry’s versatility and accessibility. This can only mean great things for patients, dentist and the success of their procedures.