Types of Dental Lasers

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of a variety of hard and soft tissue lasers for use in dental treatment of adults and children alike. Because dental lasers boast unique absorption characteristics, they are used to perform many specific dental procedures.

For example, some dental lasers have a wavelength that is highly absorbed by hydroxyapatite (calcium phosphate salt found in bone and teeth) and water, making them more effective for cutting through hard tissue. Commonly used hard tissue lasers include the Erbium YAG, and the Erbium chromium YSGG.

Other dental lasers boast a wavelength that is highly absorbed by water and hemoglobin (oxygenating protein in red blood cells), making them more effective for soft tissue management. Commonly used soft tissue lasers include Neodymium YAG (Nd:YAG) and diode lasers, which may be used as a component of periodontal treatment and have the ability to kill bacteria and activate the re-growth of tissues. The carbon-dioxide laser, which minimizes damage to surrounding tissue, removes tissue faster than the fiber optic method.

In addition to the lasers used for cutting and shaping hard and soft tissues, other laser types are used for various purposes. Certain lasers are specifically designed to view the insides of teeth and cells using Optical Coherence Tomography, a non-invasive imaging technique. Other lasers provide energy and specific proteins that help move messages between cells to match the body's natural ability to use light spectrums to heal damaged cells.

Consult the Academy of Laser Dentistry for more information about the types and benefits of procedures performed in laser dentistry.