[Lasers in dentistry. Part B—Interaction with biological tissues and the effect on the soft tissues of the oral cavity, the hard tissues of the tooth and the dental pulp]

J Moshonov, A Stabholz, Y Leopold, I Rosenberg, A Stabholz
Journal of the Israel Dental Association 2001, 18 (3-4): 21-8, 107-8
The interaction of laser energy with target tissue is mainly determined by two non operator-dependent factors: the specific wavelength of the laser and the optical properties of the target tissues. Power density, energy density, pulse repetition rate, pulse duration and the mode of energy transferring to the tissue are dictated by the clinician. Combination of these factors enables to control optimal response for the clinical application. Four responses are described when the laser beam hits the target tissue: reflection, absorption, transmission and scattering. Three main mechanisms of interaction between the laser and the biological tissues exist: photothermic, photoacoustic and photochemical. The effect of lasers on the soft tissues of the oral cavity is based on transformation of light energy into thermal energy which, in turn heats the target tissue to produce the desirable effect. In comparison to the scalpel used in surgical procedures, the laser beam is characterized by tissue natural sterility and by minimum bleeding during the surgical procedures due to blood vessels welding. The various effects achieved by the temperature elevation during the laser application on the soft tissue are: I. coagulation and hemostasis II. tissue sterilization III. tissue welding IV. incision and excision V. ablation and vaporization Ablation and melting are the two basic modalities by which the effect of lasers on the hard tissues of the tooth is produced. When discussing the effect of laser on dental hard tissues, the energy absorption in the hydroxyapatite plays a major role in addition to its absorption in water. When laser energy is absorbed in the water of the hard tissues, a rapid volume expansion of the evaporating water occurs as a result of a substantial temperature elevation in the interaction site. Microexplosions are produced causing hard tissue disintegration. If pulp temperatures are raised beyond 5 degrees C level, damage to the dental pulp is irreversible. Histologically, after laser ablation, presence of odontoblastic nuclei is important. Consistency and composition of the intracellular tissue is another factor influencing cell viability. If heat is intensive and exists for an extended time, the consistency of the intracellular ground substance may not be preserved. Accordingly, the application of excessive energy densities has been shown to result in significant damage to pulp tissue and in particular to odontoblasts. Studies showed that the use of Er:YAG laser to treat dental hard tissues is both safe and effective for caries removal, cavity preparation and enamel etching.

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