Cape Town - Many people dread going to the dentist because of the fear of injections, drilling and vibration associated with dental procedures, but a new laser technology could revolutionise how certain dental procedures such as fillings, root canals and implant surgeries are done – promising an injection free, noise free and painless dental experience that eliminates the fear factor of dentistry.
While the traditional way of doing these procedures often requires a noisy drilling into the tooth, the new Biolase Waterlase Dental Laser uses a high energy water beam to remove the tooth structure, allowing dentists to perform precise soft tissue surgery, sterilise the inside of a tooth canal and stop the excess bleeding, among other things.
Although the laser technology is not completely new in South Africa, the hi-tech machine is. The machine has built-in settings to treat different tissue types at different frequencies, and allows dentists to work more effectively in a shorter space of time without heat, pressure and vibration caused by traditional drilling.
The machine, which has a tiny plastic beam at the front, sprays a mixture of air, water and laser energy though a special hand piece. The laser energy, which is emitted through the tiny beam, causes tiny water molecules to heat and explode, cleaning away the diseased tissue.
Dr Sam van Wyk, one of the only three doctors who uses the machine in Cape Town, said the big advantage of the laser was its precision, silence and less pain.
“Depending which part of the tooth you are cutting and the strength you use, you can either cut without an anaesthetic or with less anaesthetic, especially if it involves the nerve of the tooth.
“The laser is very effective for treating gum disease. It’s very precise when cleaning away the excess gum… it’s also very good in controlling bleeding,” he said.
Van Wyk said while the laser allowed dentists to perform different procedures, for patients, it reduced the fear factor associated with these procedures.
Peter Doubell, chief executive of SciVision, which supplies the technology in South Africa, said the technology was so versatile that it treated both hard and soft tissue.
“Because WaterLase dentistry requires less to no anaesthesia, multiple procedures can be done simultaneously on different quadrants of the mouth, eliminating multiple appointments.
“Its non-contact method guarantees mostly painless procedures. The technology is literally taking the fear factor out of dentistry,” he said.