Sensitive Teeth and Fluoride Treatments
Lasers can help people who suffer from sensitive teeth. Usually tooth sensitivity (dentine hypersensitivity) manifests itself as temporary tooth discomfort or pain after eating cold food, drinking cold liquids, or breathing cold air.
The most common cause of sensitive teeth is when the gums which protect the teeth recede. When this happens the underlying tooth roots are exposed. These roots contain small pores (tubules) which lead directly to the nerve of the tooth. As a result pain, pressure, and hot and cold stimuli can travel down the tubules triggering the nerve.
Gums commonly recede for two reasons:
Poor oral hygiene. This leads to a build-up of plaque around the teeth and gums which in time hardens into tartar. Bacteria in the tartar are responsible for the gingivitis and periodontal disease that causes gum recession.
Incorrect brushing of the teeth. A surprising number of people brush their teeth with too much pressure. Over time this brushing removes gum tissue exposing the tubules.
When combined with a fluoride treatment, certain dental lasers can reduce sensitivity for up to 12 months. The effectiveness of this treatment depends on the type of laser used, and varies according to each individual patient.
Dental lasers assist in the uptake of fluoride within teeth. These enhanced laser fluoride treatments are longer lasting and provide better protection for your teeth against decay.
Gum Recontouring and Gum Lifts
During cosmetic procedures we often need to correct the level of the gum before veneers or crowns are made. There are three scenarios
- The gum tissue could be lower on one front tooth and not the other, thereby; creating the appearance that one tooth is longer than the other.
- Another scenario (as in the adjacent photo) would be that the gingival margins of all the teeth are at the same height or the teeth appear to be too short.
- Then there is the gummy smile. When an individual smiles, they show too much gum tissue.
Your smile is made up of lips, teeth and gums and they should all be in harmony.
Sometimes all that may be required is to surgically contour the gum tissue to a more esthetically balanced appearance. This is called a simple cosmetic gum lift.
Of course, there are times when contouring the tissue alone is not enough. In those circumstances the bone at the front of the root may have to be reduced. This is done because the gingival margins need to be about 3 millimeters from the edge of the bone. If you don't reduce the bone the tissue will grow back. This procedure, while more invasive than a simple gum lift, is still relatively comfortable when done properly.
Usually gum recontouring is done with scalpels and sutures (especially if bone needs to be adjusted with a drill), and takes six to eight weeks of healing before your veneers or crowns can be made. It is a highly specialized cosmetic procedure that not any dentist can perform.
With laser gum lifts, gum and bone around teeth can be reshaped and balanced quickly and painlessly without sutures, swelling or pain later. Often the crowns or veneers can be finished at the time of your appointment or within two weeks.
Laser crown lengthening is a similar procedure as gum lifts, but performed around teeth that are broken or have been filled below the gum line and now need treatment. For us to be able to clean and bond properly to healthy tooth structure, we need to see the tooth clearly and make sure the bonding doesn’t interfere with the health of your gum and bone. Again, this is a procedure usually performed by a specialist, at a separate visit, and you would wait for weeks before your crown can be prepared, and then another week or two to be finished.
Root Canal Treatments
Dental lasers are very good at targeting the bacteria which cause infected root canals in your teeth. A quick laser treatment can be very effective in treating the disease and promoting healing.
The Dental laser cleans the root more thoroughly than conventional root canal techniques. Microorganisms can hide in the dentinal tubules, or tiny holes, of the dentine surrounding the root. With conventional root canals, the cleaning process doesn't always reach all of the tubules, leaving behind some of the bacteria well after the root canal is filled and sealed.
The laser penetrates deep into the porous tubules, removing bacteria without damaging the surrounding tissue. While traditional root canal instruments only clean out the tooth's root, the laser actually sterilizes it, increasing your chances of a successful procedure.
Frenectomies & tongue ties
Many people have lips and tongues that are held too tight by the frenum (that ligament that attaches your lips and your tongue to your gum and jaw bone). This can cause gum recession in between the teeth (mainly the front upper and front lower teeth). It can impede speech (especially in children) and sometimes it keeps teeth separated, also common in children. Many babies can find it difficult to suckle if they have a tied tongue. Mothers, midwives and doctors see this often.
The conventional surgery to release frenums is quite traumatic, painful and can take a long time to heal. With lasers we can precisely and painlessly remove the tissue making it more comfortable for you. There is no bleeding afterwards, no sutures and hardly any discomfort. Children go to school the day after and adults can go back to work the same day. Eating is normal and a baby will suckle immediately after the procedure! It is a truly amazing way to have surgery.
Minor surgery performed with dental lasers will heal more quickly than conventional treatments. After a laser procedure, the treated area is left sterilised and sealed, and is advanced in the healing process compared to conventional treatments.