A laser, which stands for "light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation", creates light energy in a very narrow and focused beam. This laser light produces a reaction when it hits tissue allowing it to remove or shape the tissue. In the field of dentistry, lasers are most commonly used to treat:
- Tooth decay – Lasers are used to remove decay within a tooth and prepare the surrounding enamel to receive a filling.
- Gum disease – Lasers are used to reshape gums and remove bacteria during root canal procedures.
- Biopsy - Lasers can be used to remove a small piece of tissue, called a biopsy, so that it can be examined for cancer.
- Lesion removal – Lasers can be used to remove lesions in the mouth and relieve the pain of canker sores.
- Teeth whitening – Lasers are used to speed up in-office teeth whitening procedures. A peroxide bleaching solution is first applied to the tooth surface and is then ''activated" by laser energy, which speeds up the whitening process.