If you need a filling, you might be imagining the dentist using a drill to remove the decayed tooth matter and then placing an amalgam or composite substance in the hole left behind. This was the common approach for many years, and it is still the approach many dentists use now. However, there is a new approach many dentists are taking. They are beginning to use a laser to remove the decayed tooth matter instead of using a drill. Is this the right approach for you? In most cases, it is — but there are still some pros and cons to consider.
Pros of Using a Laser
The primary advantage of using a laser, rather than a drill, to remove decayed tooth matter is that less material needs to be removed. The dentist can be more precise with a laser than with a drill. More of your tooth material will be left behind, so the tooth will be stronger than if you were to have the decay removed with a drill. The difference with a small cavity is minor, but with a larger cavity, it can be significant.
A laser is also associated with less pain than the drill. You won't feel those intense vibrations that are so uncomfortable. For a small cavity, you may not need anesthesia if your dentist uses a laser. With a larger cavity, you will probably still want it, but your dentist can often use a milder formula. Many patients have fewer jaw aches after a filling when a laser is used since they don't have to deal with the vibrations. Patients are also less likely to hurt their gums or bite their cheeks or tongues because of the lack of anesthetic.
Cons of Using a Laser
A laser cannot be used on all cavities. If the cavity is between your teeth, your dentist won't be able to reach it easily with a laser, and they will need to use a drill.
The other con of having your decay removed with a laser is the cost. This is more expensive than having a traditional drill-and-fill procedure. If you have dental insurance, it may only cover part of the cost of the laser treatment, so you may have to pay an additional out-of-pocket fee. You can ask your dentist for a quote for both options and then choose the one that's best for you based on cost and other factors.
If you are able to afford a laser treatment and your dentist says it is an option for your cavity, it can be a less painful, less invasive choice.
To learn more, contact a dental office that offers laser dentistry services.