Dentists are gadget people. We just can’t help ourselves. If there’s a seminar on new techniques or technology, we flock to it; if it’s a seminar on practice management, you can almost hear the crickets chirping over the speaker’s voice, it will be so empty.
My instructors always taught me never to be the first to adopt new technology, but don’t be the last, either. This advice has served me well over the last 18 years, and the latest addition to Dr. Gillespie’s Gadget Gallery—a soft-tissue diode laser—is no different.
Lasers have been used in dentistry for about as long as I’ve been in practice, mostly for soft-tissue applications, but there are some hard-tissue uses as well. I use it mainly to gently prepare the tissue around a crown preparation instead of packing those little strings that so many patients dislike, but have also used it to esthetically recontour gum tissue and remove tissue for biopsy. Other uses include gum therapy, laser whitening and disinfection of root canals. Patients tolerate its use very well—many procedures could theoretically be done without anesthesia—and their time in the chair can also be reduced…another positive from the patient’s perspective!