March 23, 2011
By Maria Perno Goldie, RDH, MS From Dentistry IQ
Lasers are used in dentistry for a variety of purposes, one is to treat tooth hypersensitivity. There are not many recent studies on this topic, but anecdotal accounts are prevalent. Use of Nd:YAG laser irradiation has been supported for the mitigation of symptoms from dentin hypersensitivity. They are thought to work by coagulation of proteins in the dentinal fluid and hence reduce permeability.(1)
A small study testing low level laser therapy (Gallium/Aluminium/Arsenide laser [GaAIAs]) against placebo was carried out in the management of dentinal tooth hypersensitivity.(2) The results of this study demonstrated that the GaAIAs laser is an effective method for the treatment of both thermal and tactile dentinal hypersensitivity. There were no reported adverse reactions or instances of oral irritation.
A clinical trial was conducted to test the efficacy of the Nd:YAG dental laser in treating tooth sensitivity. An electronic monitoring machine was used which allowed for air stream, directed at a patient’s tooth, to be started by the clinician and halted by the patient when the sensation of pain in the tooth became too unpleasant to tolerate. The time for which the patient could tolerate the air flow was electronically measured in units of 1/50th second. By measuring the patient’s reaction time on each visit and correcting the readings obtained for “tooth pain time” using these figures, a quantitative measure of sensitivity change is achieved. The thirty patients treated had an average tooth pain time initially of 1.2 seconds.
Following laser treatment patients were recalled at 3, 7 and 14 days. At the 2-week review,this figure had increased to 7.8 seconds,which was found to be statistically significant. Control (unlased) teeth demonstrated an average improvement of only 1.7 seconds (not statistically significant). Patients’ subjective assessment of sensitivity pain on a 0-10 scale averaged 8.0 before treatment. This reduced to 3.7 after treatment. Treatment of this condition can thus be performed easily and painlessly with a predictable response and considerable patient satisfaction.(3)
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