Almost as soon as lasers were invented in the 1960s, curious dentists wondered if these powerful forms of light could be used on teeth, though those early lasers were much too crude for any useful dental work.
Researchers persisted through the decades in honing laser’s use, and today, they may be on the cusp of transforming dentistry.
Today’s lasers are fine-tuned instruments that can safely and painlessly remove cavities, and cut soft tissue without bleeding.
Even more revolutionary may be their ability to prevent cavities before they start.
The prospect of painless cavity repairs and preventing them could hold wide appeal for many Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 91 percent of adults aged 20 to 64 have cavities.
Lasers are especially appealing for young patients who are nervous about the drill, says Peter Rechmann, DMD, PhD, professor of preventive and restorative dental science at the UCSF School of Dentistry.
Rechmann has spent several decades exploring the latest frontier in laser dentistry – preventing cavities before they start.
With easy-to-use lasers coming to market and more and more clinical data on their benefits, lasers may soon see wider adoption in dental offices across the country.