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What’s My Down Time Doc? Oral Laser Wound Healing

Everyone is short on time these days and even medical procedures need to be budgeted into our busy schedules. What if you can promise your patient a same appointment procedure with essentially no down time and let them go back to work or back to their families that same day?

WhatsMyDownTimeDocOralLaserWoundHealing

Everyone is short on time these days and even medical procedures need to be budgeted into our busy schedules. What if you can promise your patient a same appointment procedure with essentially no down time and let them go back to work or back to their families that same day?

Patients want immediate gratification, minimal down time and as little pain and bleeding as possible. Traditional oral surgery requires incisions (which lead to bleeding), physical tissue manipulation (which leads to pain and swelling) and sutures (which are irritating). You know you can do the job with a blade or electro-surgery unit, but you can do it faster and better with a laser. Let’s look at two simple surgeries and how they can be more efficiently performed with a dental laser, biopsies and frenectomies.

Biopsies are the standard of care when an oral lesion is removed for esthetic, comfort and diagnostic purposes. Utilizing traditional techniques involves cutting around the lesion with a blade or scissors, requiring sutures for closure. Oral tissue is sensitive so the patient often complains about irritation when eating or speaking. The lesion can be removed with a blade if small and flat, or with a laser if pedunculated (on a stalk) or large. After removal the wound can be cauterized and contracted with the laser. By circling the circumference of the wound one can actually make the hole smaller than the original lesion! Instead of a day of downtime, the patient can go to work or school with over the counter (OTC) pain control.

Frenectomies can be performed prior to orthodontics, to free up the tongue or even to prevent the need for soft tissue grafting. Using a laser turns a somewhat difficult surgery into a 5-minute procedure. Nothing makes a parent or patient happier than an immediate solution that is quick and relatively pain free. Once again, with no sutures or bleeding the frenum tissue can be ablated and released with light energy. Afterwards the patient can immediately return to their regular routine with very few dietary and physical restrictions.

So how can you make these simple surgeries part of your daily treatment? Contact the ALD to take a basic course to learn about laser safety and you can start the next day. Many procedures can be done using a diode laser with a short learning curve. Lasers are not meant to replace your current treatment, just to make it easier and more efficient. For a general practitioner who does not do a lot of surgery, it is a great way to expand your menu and gain referrals from happy patients. Be ready to tell those workaholics that they will have no down time at all!

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Laura Braswell is a Periodontist in private practice in Atlanta, GA. She is currently teaching at Georgia Regents University and doing research for several laser companies. Dr. Braswell has been an active ALD member since 1993 and holds Advanced Proficiency in dental laser education and Educator status with the ALD. She can be reached at laurabraswelldds@gmail.com.

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Dr. Laura Braswell
2015-09-23
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