Laser Procedures: A Beneficial Trend in Modern Dentistry

2020-06-11T13:33:01+00:00November 21st, 2019|Carolina's Dental Choice, Dental Trends|

Lasers (Light Amplified by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) are used for all sorts of things these days: welding, cutting, printing, surveying—and dentistry.  A laser is a device that uses radiation to stimulate light so that it can penetrate a foreign material, which makes it a perfect device for taking care of things like cavities or excess gums overlapping the teeth.

 

Some patients may have a bit of reluctance towards having a radiated light used inside their mouths, but realizing what a laser can do to cavities and gums, and understanding how safe it actually is, should quickly relieve any apprehension.

Since the mid-90s, lasers have been slowly incorporated into dentistry for use on such things as:

  • Biopsies—since a laser is incredibly precise and reliable it can be used to remove a very small portion of tissue without affecting the surrounding areas. Using a laser also allows for a faster healing process.
  • Tooth Decay—using a laser to remove the decaying portion of a tooth has proven to be a quicker and a more efficient process than using traditional methods.
  • Gum Disease—a laser is a great way to reshape gums and remove built-up bacteria without damaging the teeth.
  • Teeth Whitening—modern dentistry has found a way to whiten the teeth by applying a peroxide bleaching solution to the teeth then having it activated by a laser to speed the whitening process up. And it’s completely painless.

There’s even more that dentists can do with lasers. They can be used for reducing the pain of canker and cold sores, expose hidden wisdom teeth, remove excess muscles in the mouth that restrict proper movement, and help treat infections from root canals. And as we make advancements in laser dentistry, the list just continues to grow.

 

Lasers Treatments

Essentially, there are two types of lasers used in dentistry: one for soft tissue and another for hard tissue.

Soft-Tissue Lasers.

These use an absorbable wavelength, making them less dangerous to use on softer tissue like the gums. The surrounding areas can then absorb and handle the effect of the beam without being damaged. Another benefit to using a soft-tissue laser is that it has the capability to kill bacteria and simultaneously encourage new growth. Postoperative pain is minimal from the use of soft-tissue lasers because, at the same time they are penetrating one area of tissue, they are able to seal the surrounding blood vessels. Soft-tissue lasers are typically used for:

  • Soft-Tissue Folds—devices such as dentures can cause actual folds of tissue in the mouth, which can become painfully uncomfortable and a health hazard. Using a laser is a painless way to reshape the gums and etch away areas of excess, molding the interior of your mouth to the shape it should be.
  • Crown Lengthening—this is a form of gum reshaping so that the foundation of the tooth is strengthened and exposed from overlapping gums. Patients don’t always notice they need crown lengthening, but the procedure does make the tooth healthier in the long run.
  • Muscle Attachment—for those who have limited tongue movement due to muscle restraints, a soft-tissue laser can be used to reshape or remove pieces of tissue to free up the tongue and allow for better movement within the mouth.

Hard-Tissue Lasers.

These types of lasers have a high enough wavelength that they can cut into hard tissues such as bone and teeth. This laser has such incredible accuracy that it only penetrates the desired material and causes little to no impact on the surrounding areas.

A hard-tissue laser is primarily used for prepping dental fillings. In the past, a drill was used to rid a tooth of unwanted bacteria before a filling was attached, and for this to take place the area had to be anesthetized and the prep and process were arduous. With a hard- tissue laser, there is no pain and therefore no need for anesthesia. The process is easier, faster, and much more accurate.

This type of laser is also used to help with overly sensitive teeth. On the root of sensitive teeth there can be found open tubules, which cause the unwanted sensation. By using a hard-tissue laser, a dentist can seal these holes and strengthen the teeth.

 

A Case for Lasers

There is a clear case for laser dentistry. The handful of procedures they are currently used for are just scratching the surface of what can be done with lasers. At Carolina’s Dental Choice, we’re excited about what can be done with laser procedures. Call or visit us today to make an appointment. It’s time to be confident with your smile, and we can help.

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The Long-Term Effects of Opioid Use on the Teeth

2021-02-05T17:58:45+00:00August 30th, 2017|Carolina's Dental Choice|

 

Sitting on your couch watching TV, you hear the commercial that seems to have found the perfect cure to a common illness, you sit and listen and observe the happy people, then the commercial ends and a quick and speedy list of about a million side effects are announced in a low monotone voice. Carolina’s Dental Choice wants you to know the negative effects opioids have on your teeth. The fact of the matter is this: there is a good chance that due to modern advancements in medicine, we have begun to take advantage of the fact that there is a drug for just about any ailment. We have become so focused on feeling better, we have neglected to read the fine print. This is not to say modern medicine is bad. Rather, it is important that we take extra good care of our teeth. This is true more now than ever, especially with the use of opioids on the rise.

 

Narcotic pain relievers prescribed only by a medical professional are called opioids. Most of us know them better by their particular names such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, and codeine, but each of these opioids carries with it a dangerous condition: dry mouth. There are many side effects to opioid use (addiction being the most deadly), but dry mouth is the one that can do direct damage to the teeth. What happens when we use opioids for short or long periods of time is the saliva deteriorates from the mouth. We need the bacteria in saliva to be continually present in order to fight off infection, tooth decay, and a host of other possible issues. Admittedly, dry mouth does not sound to be all that serious of a problem, but it is important to understand that dry mouth is simply the source of other much more serious side effects to opioid use.

 

This is not to say opioids are bad, but the long-term effects of opioid use can be extremely hazardous to the teeth if specific measures are not taken. Here are several of the symptoms that can become present after opioid use:

 

  • Dryness in the mouth and throat – this can cause discomfort when talking or trying to swallow. It can keep you from sleeping, even keep you from eating.

 

  • Thick saliva – this is when the little saliva you have left in your mouth becomes viscous or mucus-like. This can interfere with speech, eating, and drinking. It can also create bad breath.

 

  • Sore throat – we all know how terrible it is to have a sore throat. It’s difficult to sleep and swallow. It can even be painful to speak at times.

 

  • Increase in plaque development – more plaque means higher chances for cavities and rotted teeth. Gum infection can also occur.

 

  • Bad breath – there are different types of bad breath: one caused from the foods or drinks we intake and another from dry mouth. The former can be dealt with by brushing, chewing gum, or taking mints. The latter is minimally effected by these things, and continuously gets worse with the more opioids we take.  

 

  • Mouth sores – these painful infections seem to irritate to no end, and without enough saliva in the mouth, they take longer to go away.

 

  • Poor sense of taste – dry mouth can even cause our taste buds to suffer. Foods begin to taste dull, flat, or completely void of flavor altogether.

 

 

Luckily, there are remedies for dry mouth, and by taking a little time out of your day, these side effects of opioid use can be one less thing to worry about.

If you have been prescribed an opioid it is extremely important to have routine exams at Carolina’s Dental Choice. Once you are here, we can have a close look at your teeth and mouth to see what is most likely to happen once you begin taking the medication. We can even discuss possible side effects specific to your teeth from long-term opioid use. Regardless of how long you will be on the medication, there are a few things to start doing in order to counteract the many possible outcomes previously listed due to opioid use.

One thing you can do is purchase artificial saliva spray. This can help to moisten the mouth and increase the flow of saliva. If your dry mouth continues, you may want to contact your physician. He or she can prescribe Pilocarpine, which helps stimulate salivary glands to create saliva. Before trying either of these things, start by drinking extra water to see if it does the trick.


There are a few good home remedies that have proven to help many suffering from dry mouth, and it never hurts to try these first.

 

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and floss each time as well.

 

  • Drink plenty of water or unsweetened fluids with meals.

 

  • Use only sugar-free mints or gum to stimulate saliva flow.

 

  • Try to breathe primarily out of the nose rather than your mouth.  

 

The digestion of food is dependent upon saliva. Saliva not only keeps the mouth moist, it also helps prevent against viruses, fungi, and tooth decay from taking place inside the mouth. Even if you are taking measures to control your dry mouth, it is essential that you still come into Carolina’s Dental Choice regularly for cleanings and checkups. Viruses, fungi, and tooth decay are not always apparent at first, which is why you want a professional who can detect and deal with them right away.

Here are a few more things to consider:

 

  • Brush your teeth with soft bristles. If soft bristles still cause pain or irritation, try soaking the bristles in warm water prior to use.

 

  • Avoid flossing around bleeding or sore gums, as this can cause more serious problems. If your gums do not seem to be getting better, make an appointment with Carolina’s Dental Choice right away.

 

  • Use a mouthwash that contains fluoride and that does not contain alcohol. Alcohol in mouthwash can actually encourage dry mouth.

 

  • As much as possible, refrain from sticky, sugary foods and drinks. Any time you do consume these, be sure to brush your teeth right afterward.

 

  • Drink a lot of water throughout the day. This almost goes without saying, but it really can help keep the mouth from remaining dry.

 

  • Run a humidifier in your room while you sleep. This will make sure the air you are breathing in is not too dry.

 

  • Alcoholic and caffeinated drinks tend to quickly dry out the mouth. If you partake of either make sure you drink plenty of water before and after. Brushing your teeth after these can help as well.

 

We Can Help You

At Carolina’s Dental Choice we are here to help you. If you have been prescribed opioids, and have found that your mouth feels a little dryer than usual, come see us. Any or all of the preventative measures listed here can help, but allowing one of our trained professionals to look at your mouth can help pinpoint the most effective way for you to protect yourself from extreme dry mouth.

 

By: Andrae Bergeron

Content Writer

CCP Web Design

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