How to appeal to patients? Biolase Chief Dental Officer Dr. Samuel Low discusses the power of dental lasers

In our fast-paced environment, dental lasers provide patients a minimally invasive treatment option for various dental procedures. Samuel Low, DDS, chief dental officer of Biolase, shared the impacts and appeal of dental lasers.

Question: How have you seen dental lasers advance and improve frenectomy and other dental surgeries requiring local anesthesia?

Dr. Samuel Low: Dental lasers are used to treat a wide range of soft and hard tissue conditions, including tooth decay, periodontal disease and biopsies. Dental lasers are minimally invasive and therefore can decrease the need for local anesthesia, reduce bleeding during and after procedures and speed up the healing and recovery process. Since there is no traditional cutting, we are creating a wound area that heals well; low-level laser therapy encourages healing by stimulating cells to produce more energy.

One area where dental lasers have seen a major boon is in pediatric dentistry, as they have enabled dentists to treat very young children with significantly reduced pain. This is especially the case for newborns with lactation issues, particularly ankyloglossia — or tongue- tie — which has been one of the biggest difficulties for breastfeeding infants.

Traditionally, frenectomies have been very invasive, requiring local anesthesia, causing excessive bleeding and resulting in long recovery periods and post-procedure issues for moms and babies. With a dental laser, we are now able to perform frenectomies quickly, allowing mothers to resume breastfeeding immediately after leaving the procedure.

Dental lasers also enable pediatric dentists to remove decay and place restorations with minimal to no anesthesia. Imagine the popularity among parents and kids of a pediatric dentist's office that marketed their practice as a minimal local anesthesia or no anesthesia when dealing with deciduous teeth. Dentals lasers enable them to do just that.

Q: What are the benefits of dental lasers vs. traditional surgery methods?

SL: One of the primary benefits of dental lasers rest in operating in an area with reduced or no hemorrhage. A large part of surgical procedure time is trying to obtain clear access. Laser therapy greatly reduces and often eliminates hemorrhaging, closing vessels opened up by initial incision. When you eliminate hemorrhage, you're able to see what you're doing and it makes a substantial improvement in the speed and accuracy of the procedure's end result.

After performing periodontal surgery for fifteen years — which traditionally encompasses significant hemorrhaging — within a month of using dental lasers, I understood the rationale of using laser therapy for access. A large benefit is also patient perception. Patients are attuned to minimally invasive procedures, including dentistry, because of quicker recovery time and less discomfort than conventional surgery methods.

Patients are getting smart; they don't want traditional procedures anymore. Dental lasers deliver advantages in attracting new patients, patient acceptance and enhanced patient care. Creating and marketing procedures that patients will accept makes healthcare better because they are not afraid. Harold Flynn, CEO of Biolase, continues to reinforce that laser engagement is not just about adding revenue, it is about making a difference in healthcare and patients' lives.

Q: Where do you see the dental laser industry heading? What challenges do you foresee?

SL: The adoption of lasers in dentistry is only set to increase as we continue to see the growth of technological advancements rapidly percolating through the healthcare industry. The idea of minimally invasive procedures touches the entire spectrum of the healthcare environment and is now embedding itself into the dental space as well.

Over the past five years, dentistry has experienced a huge surge in technological advancements. To have the ability to perform procedures without having to remove significant tissue is the beginning of a tipping point; everyday more patients are inquiring about minimally invasive technologies and the industry will begin to see an exponential escalation in the usage of such tools.

Dentistry is a conservative profession, which can be viewed as an obstacle to adoption, but in healthcare it's a positive direction thing; we need evidence and science for confirmation before we adopt a new approach. The blade will be utilized less and less as the evidence continues to demonstrate what the laser can do.

And as more dentists and patients turn to lasers, costs will continue to drop — a challenge for lasers until recently. With today's advancements, however, lasers are made significantly more cost effective. Additionally, training dentists, one of the costs associated with lasers, has become automated further bringing down costs.

Finally, in order to increase the use of dental lasers, training needs to be included in dental curriculums. Currently, dental students get very little hands-on experience with lasers. As more dental students graduate, entering the patient advocacy era and more patients request lasers, it will become increasingly important for organizations such as the Academy of Laser Dentistry and other associations to ensure that dental students are building the skills necessary to practice dentistry of the future.

Q: How has Biolase shaped the dental laser industry? What does the future look like for Biolase?

SL: Biolase has shaped the industry by reducing resistance in the adoption of lasers. By offering the largest selection of dental lasers, Biolase enables virtually every practice to introduce lasers. Biolase offers lasers across the entire spectrum — everything from more powerful, sophisticated devices to inexpensive lasers with small footprints. Dentists are now able to tap into the benefits of lasers to treat a wide variety of dental conditions. We have created lasers in a variety of sizes, solutions and costs; there is a laser for every dentist out there.

Patients have turned down necessary treatments that require drills, scalpels, shots and anesthesia simply because of fear. With lasers, that is no longer an issue. Patients are now more receptive to procedures, enabling dentists to deliver the highest level of care.

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