To Jeremy, a confirmed workaholic, having his dental surgery done with laser technology seemed like a great time saver. The list of advantages was long. However, he also found out that there could still be some side effects.
A generation ago, most consumers would have considered having a dental procedure performed with a laser something straight out science fiction. According to 1-800-DENTIST, the word laser is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. It’s now used to perform a number of dental procedures such as gum surgery.
In everyday dentistry, a laser provides the practitioner with an exact, concentrated beam of energy. It both sterilizes and coagulates blood vessels to discourage infection. Whether utilized to cut or vaporize tissue, it melts any tissue it touches.
Use of a laser for gum surgery reduces time away from school and work. It minimizes bleeding and controls swelling.
Sometimes, however, patients who have heard that a laser eliminates the need for anesthesia are disappointed. Some surgeries won’t allow this because of the need to control pain during the procedure.
OnlineSurgery reports that lasers are typically used for cosmetic gum surgery. In this type of procedure, the practitioner redefines the patient’s gums and the tissue around them to correct over- or underexposure of teeth. The cause can be from aging, gum disease or congenital issues. Using the laser, the surgeon sculpts the gums into a new appearance. However, patients can experience four common side effects.
Swelling. Any type of gum surgery often results in swelling of the gums as well as the face. This is how the patient’s body reacts to the trauma of surgery. The best way to minimize it is to apply cold packs to the mouth or face. The pack should be in place for 20 minutes, then off 20 minutes before repeating the process for a few hours after surgery.
Bleeding. The amount of post-surgical bleeding depends on each patient’s circumstances but is usually minimal with laser surgery in the mouth. Rinsing the mouth on the first day can foster additional bleeding and should be avoided. Smoking and drinking alcohol can also irritate the situation.
Discomfort. A mild amount of pain and discomfort is normal after gum surgery. Medications to relieve pain and anti-inflammatory products help reduce swelling and discomfort.
Infection. Infection is possible after any surgical procedure. Should one develop, the patient should immediately get in touch with his or her surgeon.
Laser gum surgery also treats periodontal disease. According to the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), there is insufficient evidence to show that any specific laser wavelength is superior to traditional treatment of common periodontal diseases even though using lasers in addition to scaling and root planning might make the procedure more effective.
The AAP states that each laser has differing wavelengths and power levels available for use. One potential side effect of using this technology for periodontal disease is damage to tissues if the periodontist uses an inappropriate wavelength or power level – or both – during a procedure.
However, the organization also acknowledges that when practitioners use lasers properly, the beams can result in less bleeding, swelling and discomfort for the patient than traditional treatments cause.