What is Laser Dentistry, and How Does It Work?

What is Laser Dentistry, and How Does It Work?

Injection-free, drill-free dentistry using dental lasers is the PERFECT pain-free option for those who suffer from dental anxiety.

Do you put off your dental appointments? If so, you’re not alone.

For many of our patients, the dreaded part of getting dental work done is the drilling, numbing and possible pain that comes along with it.

And with 36% of the population suffering from dental anxiety, it’s no surprise that over one-third of the US population hasn’t been to a dental appointment in over a year.

With all the advancements in the world, isn’t it time to shine a light, or shall I say laser, to a drill-free, injection-free way of dental care?

Now, modern dentists like Dr. Colleen Lam at Dental Arts of Atlantis in Lake Worth, Florida, are using the cutting-edge technology of dental lasers to treat patients that prefer their appointments to be drill-free, injection-free, and chemical-free.


Laser is an acronym short for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.

Lasers work by taking energy and turning it into incredibly focused, bright light that’s one single wavelength. They’ve been around since the 1960s, but they weren’t used in dentistry until around the 1990s.

Laser dentistry uses light as focused energy to diagnose and treat diverse dental problems. It can be used on soft tissues such as the mouth and gums; or hard tissues, such as bone (your teeth) and jaw.

Dental lasers are safe for teeth and FDA-approved to treat many common oral health conditions while only causing minor damage to the surrounding teeth and gums compared to traditional treatments. But best of all? Most procedures are done without anesthetic, unlike conventional treatments.



Since coming onto the dental scene, dental lasers have been used to treat various dental health concerns. They can even be used for preventative dental care, pediatric care, and cosmetic dentistry procedures.

The procedure takes the dental laser and focuses the light beam onto the target tissue (your gums, teeth, etc.).

The laser will cut the treated tissue if performing soft-tissue treatments, instantly sealing the amount.

When treating hard tissues (like getting rid of tooth decay), the laser vaporizes the affected tooth structure, removing the hard tissue as a dental drill would.

A high-performance laser, such as the Fotona Lightwalker  (Luke, I am your dentist), can perform the same procedures traditional tools can, but with less pain and greater precision. This helps ease dental anxiety while minimizing damage to the treated area… not to mention lessening the pain involved!


Dental lasers can be used to treat:

  • Gum disease and periodontal issues
  • Tooth decay or cavities (dental caries)
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Canker sores/cold sores
  • Dental Cavitations
  • Sleep Apnea (where lasers are used to help reshape the back of the throat to prevent the tissue from blocking the airway during sleep)

Lasers are also used to perform dental procedures such as:

  • Root canals
  • Teeth whitening
  • Biopsies of suspicious-looking tissue
  • Crown lengthening and gum reshaping (treating both the gums and bone to help dental crowns fit correctly)
  • Exposing wisdom teeth


There are two main types of dental lasers: soft-tissue lasers and hard-tissue lasers.

Soft-tissue lasers treat the gums, tongue, and other soft parts of the mouth.

These lasers are tuned to wavelengths that water and hemoglobin absorb, two molecules abundant in soft tissues (Hemoglobin helps blood carry oxygen and gives it its red color.).

This makes them ideal for treating gum issues as they can cut into soft tissue while simultaneously sealing exposed blood vessels, which helps reduce bleeding and overall healing time. In addition, laser treatments kill off any harmful bacteria floating around in the mouth, reducing your risk of infection after treatment.

Soft-tissue laser procedures:

  • Gum disease
  • Correcting uneven/disproportionate gum lines
  • Address/correct restricted tongue movement
  • Lengthening crowns
  • Removing folds in oral soft tissue often caused by dentures

Hard-tissue lasers treat the bony parts of the mouth, like bone, teeth, and jaw. They target the water molecules in the enamel and dentin to vaporize thin layers of a decayed tooth. The treated tooth can then be repaired with a composite dental filling. Hard lasers reduce the need for anesthesia for procedures such as fillings.

Standard procedures that use hard lasers include:

  • Shape teeth before composite bonding
  • Repair worn-out or damaged fillings
  • Remove minor amounts of tooth structure
  • Treating teeth sensitivity – sensitivity to hot and cold is the result of the open tub


Some of the benefits of laser dentistry include:

  • Heal faster – Using laser technology in dental treatments helps heal faster than the same procedure done using traditional therapies.
  • Minimal pain and minor bleeding – Dental lasers help seal blood vessels and nerve endings as they cut their way into soft tissue. This helps manage pain levels post-procedure, with many patients saying they felt little to no pain afterward.
  • Maintaining healthy tissue – When you fill a cavity with dental drills, they remove some healthy tooth tissue; laser treatments only remove the decayed parts of the tooth, which means you get to keep more of your actual, natural tooth.
  • Cavity prevention – Lasers can detect cavities, bacteria, and other dental problems earlier than traditional methods. For example, did you know that lasers can spot tooth decay before an x-ray on a routine checkup?
  • There is no need for stitches or sutures – Some dental procedures like soft-tissue biopsies need stitches when performed traditionally. But with lasers? No sutures or stitches are required!


If you’re getting a dental laser procedure done to fill a cavity, you can expect to go through the same appointment process as a traditional cavity filling. Still, instead of using a drill, your dentist will swap it out for a laser to chip away all of that tooth decay!

Depending on your condition and the procedure you have done, you may still need a local anesthetic to numb the area around your mouth.

Once you are fully prepared for the procedure, the dentist will start!

If getting a cavity filled, don’t be alarmed if you hear popping noises; it’s just the laser vaporizing the decayed parts of your tooth.

After removing all the decay from your tooth, your dentist will fill the cavity like they would if using a dental drill.


A laser filling usually costs 1.5x to 2x as much as a traditional filling.

Your dental insurance will often cover a large portion of the cost but always check with your specific insurance provider or dentist to get an estimate of what you’ll pay out-of-pocket.

Want to learn more about our laser dentistry services?

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