Dr. Samuel Low is here to answer our questions regarding dental lasers and peri-implantitis, stemming from recent findings from the International Journal of Periodontics & Restorative Dentistry and Lasers in Medical Science.
1. Recently published studies in the International Journal of Periodontics & Restorative Dentistry and Lasers in Medical Science suggest that BIOLASE’s Waterlase laser technology is beneficial for the treatment of peri-Implantitis. Can you summarize these findings?
Data in both journals demonstrates the value of laser technology in treating peri-implantitis. The study published in the International Journal of Periodontics & Restorative Dentistry highlights the value of Er,Cr:YSGG lasers for the debridement of titanium implants. In this study, a laser treatment was carried out at a setting of 1.5 W, air/water of 40%/50%, and pulse rate of 30 Hz. Patients who received the treatment returned with positive clinical outcomes.
Similarly, the findings of the study published in Lasers in Medical Science suggested that the dental lasers reduced the amount of bacteria present on zirconia discs. In addition, fibroblast attachments on the surfaces of the zirconia discs also showed more adherence when treated with Er,Cr:YSGG laser technology. This is important given the uptick in the number of zirconia dental implants placed throughout the world.
In simple terms, both of these studies emphasize the positive role that dental lasers can play in decontaminating surfaces surrounding implants, where elements including biofilm can contribute to peri-implantitis.
2. How can lasers be used to prevent peri-implantitis in the first place?
Before peri-implantitis becomes severe enough to refer to it as such, dental lasers can also play an important role in preventing it in the first place. Lasers can be used to effectively reduce bacteria in the mouth through a process commonly known as laser bacterial reduction (LBR) or Laser Assisted Periodontal Therapy (LAPT). Both have been shown to be successful in minimizing biofilm that can negatively impact a patient’s oral health. Concentrated laser light energy will decrease the amount of bacteria and inflammation. If the area around the implant remains free from these harmful pathogens that can lead to inflammation and infection, peri-implantitis can be prevented or, at the very least, delayed.
3. What about when someone has already developed peri-implantitis? How can lasers be used throughout the healing process?
When peri-implantitis has already become serious, Er,Cr:YSGG all-tissue lasers can be an alternative and effective method for decontaminating the surface of infected implants. More specifically, due to lasers’ unique precision for surface targets, hemostatic effects, and no adverse events of titanium surfaces, periodontists can use laser technology to reduce inflammation around the peri-implant pocket through decontamination.
4. How do these findings impact the patient?
While data varies, we have seen as much as 56% of patients with dental implants who may have peri-implantitis and need treatment, and no patient or practitioner wants to experience the loss of a dental implant. However, some treatment methods can create discomfort, be costly, and possibly be ineffective and unpredictable. However, Waterlase laser technology offers an effective treatment option that is successful, consistent and minimally invasive.
5. What advice would you share with providers who are hesitant about using lasers?
To periodontists, or any dental professional, who is unfamiliar with the use of dental lasers, I would recommend first seeking information, much like these studies. There are a myriad of educational resources available as well as demonstrations and training events to attend to learn more about the benefits of dental laser technology for both the patient and the practice alike. BIOLASE offers a variety of training programs through their Waterlase Perio Academy for laser technologies which can be an excellent starting point for dentists who want to learn more about operating a laser.
About Dr. Samuel Low
Samuel B. Low, D.D.S., M.S., M.Ed., was named Vice President, Dental and Clinical Affairs, and Chief Dental Officer of BIOLASE in October of 2016. Dr. Low is Professor Emeritus, University of Florida, College of Dentistry and Associate faculty member of the Pankey Institute, with 30 years of private practice experience in periodontics, lasers and implant placement. He is also a Diplomate of the American Board of Periodontology and past President of the American Academy of Periodontology.
Dr. Low provides dentists and dental hygienists the tools for successfully managing the periodontal patient in general and periodontal practices. He was selected “Dentist of the Year” by the Florida Dental Association, Distinguished Alumnus by the University of Texas Dental School, and the Gordon Christensen Lecturer Recognition Award. He is a Past President of the Florida Dental Association and past ADA Trustee.
Dr. Low received his Doctor of Dental Surgery (D.D.S.) and Master of Science (M.S.) degrees from the University of Texas at Houston. He also completed his residency in Periodontics at the University of Texas at Houston, and received a Masters of Education from the University of Florida.