Time to Dust off that Laser!

The pandemic has turned our dental world upside down!  That is an understatement.  We are all under stress and feeling out of control.  So many of our patients stop taking care of themselves during times of stress and that can include their home care. Combine that with a delay in maintenance care, we’re finding patients with easy gingival bleeding and some are experiencing this for the first time.   As dental professionals we understand why this bleeding is happening and we know how to fix it.  The presence and maturation of biofilm has kicked an immune response into high gear.  The result being the gingival inflammation and bleeding.  We need to disrupt enough of the biofilm to allow the inflammation to subside.  We also know that the best tools to disrupt the biofilm create the most aerosols.   

Although the CDC has outlined recommendations concerning the control of dental aerosols, I am finding offices are creating different policies concerning dental hygiene care.   Some are using ultrasonic scalers, others are not.  Hand scaling alone is not the ideal treatment to disrupt biofilm.  One treatment option to consider is Laser Bacterial Reduction (LBR).  Performing LBR on a patient with gingival inflammation will reduce the sub-gingival bacterial load and encourage healing through biostimulation.  

The utilization of lasers is a controversial subject.  There are plenty of studies and case reports supporting and discounting the benefits of LBR.   This is a topic where both sides of the discussion can back up their opinion with literature.  Some studies suggest that the red complex bacterial level is reduced for up to 60 days after LBR.  This sets the patient up for good oral health beyond the day they had their maintenance visit.  I have found patients easily agree to the LBR treatment with curiosity and optimism.  Explaining the potential long term benefits gets patients excited and motivated to perform thorough home care.  They see laser technology as modern and minimally invasive.  

Many diode lasers come with special handpieces for biostimulation.  Our patients are under a lot of stress, just like we are.  There has been talk of an increase in fracture teeth.  What’s more this stress-induced bruxism results in an increase in pain for our TMD patients.  Utilizing a laser for biostimulation of the TMJ area is another service we can offer these patients.  

Patients may present with painful ulcers due to today’s stress.  Laser biostimulation of these ulcers encourage healing and may reduce the overall healing time.  What a wonderful service for our patients!  

At a time where dental offices are trying to recoup loses suffered during the shutdown, LBR and biostimulation are services that add revenue to the hygiene appointments.   Patients appreciate the use of advanced technology.  In my opinion, patients need these services right now!  It’s time to dust off the laser, refresh your techniques and offer these patients the best services we have to offer.