My dad was an old-school dentist, and was not one to invest in high-tech equipment. I remember when he broke down and bought his first curing light. He kicked and screamed about this new “fad.” On the other hand, I will invest in almost anything that will improve the quality of my dentistry, such as a new laser.
In some ways, lasers are much like loupes. If you practice without them, you will be convinced that you can do just as well without these technologies as with them. Of course, if you talk to dentists who regularly use loupes or lasers, they will tell you the same thing - they could not practice without these technologies. What is responsible for doctors thinking this way? Dentists know they do better work while using these products, and their better dentistry gets done faster, too!
Since my new laser works equally well on hard or soft tissue, it is ideal for either a general dental or a cosmetic practice. With this laser, you can trim gingival tissue atraumatically, with nearly perfect hemostasis. You will soon realize that almost every restorative case you do needs some tissue recontouring. In addition, the outcome of your cases will improve as well.
To see how this laser can replace other lasers in your practice, let’s take a close look at some of its capabilities.
Modes for cutting soft tissue OR hard tissue
One of the neatest features is the introduction of two distinct pulse modes. For the first time, an erbium-family laser has a mode that works well for soft-tissue procedures. It also has a separate mode for cutting hard tissue and bone.
The new soft-tissue mode (S mode) widens the laser wavelength. This results in a smoother, scalpel-like cut that achieves hemostasis and eliminates any thermal trauma to the soft tissue. This type of cut is great for sculpting gingival tissue and performing many other esthetic soft-tissue procedures with little to no bleeding and smoother incisions while offering greater patient comfort.
The new hard-tissue mode (H mode) delivers energy to the tissue in a shorter, more intense wavelength with a higher peak power at the top of each pulse. The pulses are shorter in duration and more staccato-like. This makes the laser highly efficient at cutting enamel, dentin, and bone.
Combine these two modes with the laser’s other unique capabilities (choose from between 10 to 50 pulses per second or between 0.1 to 8.0 watts of energy), and you have a device that is customizable.
Several other features of my new laser have impressed me. These include storage wells for tips and extra handpieces, an inset water bottle and logos that glow a bright blue, a powerful touch-screen interface that offers on-the-fly assistance, and many sensible enhancements such as self-calibration and automatic purging of air and water from the delivery system at the end of the day.
Improvements vs. other lasers
The laser also boasts some other improvements that sets it apart from its predecessors. The handpiece has a contra-angle, which is similar to the high-speed handpieces we use throughout the day, so there is an air of familiarity with the handpiece. This is true even when using the laser for the first time. The handpiece has a much smaller head that provides easy access to posterior teeth.
Thus, the laser works well for doing pedo cases and for patients whose mouths might have limited access. In addition, fiber optics were added so that the head of the handpiece has its own illumination source.
The air-water nozzle technology has been redesigned, allowing efficient cutting on teeth, bone, and soft tissue with less air and water being sprayed into the operative zone. This substantially increases your ability to visualize the work the Biolase Waterlase MD is doing.
If you have been sitting on the fence regarding lasers, waiting for one to hit the market that does everything well, your wait has ended. Whether you have an esthetic practice and want to do smile cases or ovate pontic receptor site cases, or if you have a general practice and want to produce efficient, operative dentistry without a drill or a needle, an instrument to accomplish these goals is now available.
Dr. Michael DiTolla is the Director of Clinical Research and Education at Glidewell Laboratories in Newport Beach, Calif. He lectures nationwide on both restorative and cosmetic dentistry. Dr. DiTolla has several clinical programs available on DVD through Glidewell. For more information on this article, or to receive a free copy of one of Dr. DiTolla’s clinical DVDs, e-mail him at [email protected].