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Dental laser can replace deep drilling

作者:慕容辣    发布时间:2019-03-06 04:03:00    

By Marina Murphy When the living nerve inside a tooth becomes infected, the standard treatment is to drill out the nerve and fill the interior of the tooth. In the US alone, dentists perform 20 million root canal treatments every year Pain-free lasers can not only replace the dreaded drill, they can also save infected nerves, says a US dentist. When the living nerve inside a tooth becomes infected, the standard treatment is to drill out the nerve and fill the interior of the tooth. In the US alone, dentists perform 20 million root canal treatments every year. But the procedure usually weakens the tooth and makes it discolour. Now Richard Hansen of the Center for Advanced Dentistry in Fullerton, California, has developed a laser treatment that destroys the diseased nerve tissue without damaging the healthy nerve. Patients don’t even need a local anaesthetic unless the tooth is already painful. The erbium laser that Hansen uses emits light with a wavelength of 2940 nanometres, which is primarily absorbed by water. “And decayed material has an extremely high water content,” he says. This means that most of the laser’s energy is absorbed by the infected tissue, which is vaporised. If necessary, antibiotic paste can be inserted into the tooth through a hole made by a more powerful laser, and the tooth sealed. Hansen says studies have shown there is little or no damage to living nerve tissue. So far, he has used the laser method to treat nearly 600 patients who would otherwise have needed root canal work. Hansen claims there has been an almost 100 per cent success rate. He plans to publish the results of his trials later this year. But Eddy Levin, a Harley Street dental surgeon, is not convinced. “I personally would not use lasers,” he says. “In the first place, the equipment required is incredibly costly, which would make it very expensive for the patient. Also, I don’t think they have been tried and tested enough, and they take too long.” It does take longer, Hansen agrees. “But I tell dentists that if they want to do things quickly, they should use a hammer and chisel.” He says the technique is actually cheaper because it avoids the need for other work such as a crown or root canal. Hansen also claims the vibrations caused by drills in preparation for ordinary fillings can damage the nerve and make procedures such as root canals necessary later in life. In fact, he says, most work done on adults is only necessary because of dental work done in childhood. “Adult dentistry wouldn’t exist if we routinely used lasers,” he claims. Since the FDA approved lasers for dental treatment in 1997, Hansen and a few other dentists have routinely used them instead of the traditional drill. They say lasers, unlike drills,

 

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