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Lasers are being used for more and more dental treatments now than ever before. According to the Academy of Laser Dentistry, a laser is an instrument that produces a narrow, intense beam of light energy. When laser light comes into contact with tissue, it causes a reaction. The laser can be used to cut, remove, vaporize or shape tissue. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of lasers in dentistry in 1990.
Today, different lasers are used for different purposes - from removal of tooth decay and enhancing bleach whitening of teeth to gum reshaping and other surgical procedures. Lasers are also used to remove benign tumors in the gums, regenerate damaged nerves, reduce the inflammation of temporomandibular joint treatment and remove damaged soft tissue without sutures. New laser techniques reduce tooth sensitivity, increase healing of cold sores and even help resolve issues associated with sleep apnea.
The benefits of laser surgery are considerable - less swelling, bleeding and discomfort, less need for anesthesia and faster healing times. The use of lasers does require that patients and doctors wear special protective eyewear to prevent excessive light exposure.