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Health Beat: Swapping the drill for dental lasers

By Melanie Falcon, Anchor / Reporter, @Melanie_Falcon, MFalcon@wfmz.com
Published On: Jan 10 2014 01:35:54 PM CST
Updated On: Jan 10 2014 04:55:54 PM CST

Studies show up to 40 million Americans avoid seeing the dentist because of anxiety and fear, but those with dental phobias have a higher risk of gum disease and tooth loss.

SAN JOSE, Calif. -

Studies show up to 40 million Americans avoid seeing the dentist because of anxiety and fear, but those with dental phobias have a higher risk of gum disease and tooth loss. Now, lasers are making a visit to the dentist a little more bearable.

The dental drill sends 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, and a quicker healing time," said Dr. Christine Hayashi, periodontist, Forest Periodontics, San Jose, Calif.

Dental lasers, like the WaterLase, can be used for many dental procedures, including filling cavities, performing root canals, and removing tooth or gum.

"For small procedures, in a few days you may not have even noticed that we did anything," Hayashi said.

Teeth contain water. When the laser makes contact with the tooth, it excites the water molecules to cut through it. The laser keeps the tooth hydrated and prevents heat, which means no pain.

The laser can be used to cut away a patient’s gums. The tissue literally vaporizes with less bleeding, swelling, and damage to the surrounding area.

"I have receding gums," Teri Pesta said.

To fix Pesta's problem, her periodontist used a laser to transfer tissue and fill in sparse areas of gum. Teri had the procedure performed without the laser the first time and then with it.

"I would say this time there was absolutely no pain at all," Pesta said.

It's a technology that is changing the way dentists treat patients and the way patients feel about seeing their dentists.

Most dentists do not charge their patients any extra for using the laser. It actually saves them time because they can get through procedures more quickly.

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