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Dr. Gerry Ross: Photobiomodulation Expert & Advocate

Dr. Gerry Ross is member of the ALD Board of Directors and chairs the Academy’s Certification Committee. He’s been practicing general dentistry for 48 years. Dr. Ross has been using lasers in his practice since 1992 and has been utilizing photobiomodulation (PBM) since 1993 to reduce pain and promote healing.

LFQ-GerryRoss Introduction: Using PBM for more than 25 years is more than enough to make him an expert, but Dr. Ross has also written PBM chapters for two textbooks and is on the editorial board of the respected journal, "Photobiomodulation, Photomedicine and Laser Surgery".

Dr. Ross also has the distinction of kicking off the ALDs 2019 CE Webinar Series on July 24th with a presentation entitled “Dentistry’s New Secret Weapon: Photobiomodulation / Low Level Lasers.”

Q. It seems that PBM is the hottest topic in dentistry. Do you agree?
A. Yes, it is! PBM is the solution to some huge problems facing dentistry and healthcare in general. For example, one such problem is the use of prescription opioids and the crisis of opioid addiction. When properly used, PBM can become a viable and effective alternative to these drugs. Society is very concerned with the side effects of many drugs that we commonly use; PBM can heal tissue and relieve pain without side effects.

Q. You’ve been using PBM since 1993. How were you first introduced to it?
A. I went to my first laser conference late in 1992 in Salt Lake City and there were a number of presentations on low level lasers and I found it very fascinating. When I returned home, I did some additional research and within a few months I purchased my first low level laser unit and never looked back

Q. Did you have an ah-ha! moment immediately after your initial introduction?
A. I think my ah-ha! moment came when I started to read how effective PBM was when used it could be used in pain control. This is extremely important from the patient’s perspective and can transform the entire patient experience in the dental practice.

Q. How long did it take to become clinically proficient in PBM?
A. I started using it on a few patients and most cases, it was effective for tissue healing and pain reduction. I was not only encouraged but highly motivated to increase the amount of positive patient outcomes and to apply PBM to as many appropriate patients as possible.

Therefore, I attended many meetings and learned from many of the leading PBM pioneers. Based on their teachings and research, I continuously refined my techniques. What has been special for me is that I now count many of these PBM pioneers as my close personal friends.

Fortunately, with today’s generation of PBM lasers, the learning curve is very short. My mission is to share the applications and techniques of PBM this with dental professionals throughout the world.

Q. What are some of the most common conditions that can be treated with PBM?
A. I use my PBM units many times every day and I don’t think my general practice dental office is atypical.

Here’s how I use PBM:
  • After extractions or surgical procedures to reduce pain and improve healing
  • In Implant surgery, less pain and faster integration with better quality bone
  • Treatment of dry sockets
  • Regeneration of damaged and severed nerves
  • A tool in the treatment of TMD and Facial pain
  • Treatment and/or prevention of soft tissue lesions such as cold sores aphthous ulcers, and lichen planus
  • Treatment and/or prevention of mucositis in patients undergoing head and radiation with or without chemotherapy
  • Analgesia so many restorations can be completed without the use of a local anesthetic
  • Treatment of dentin hypersensitivity
Q. It seems like the average dentist is already dealing with most of the examples on this list.
A. Just another day in the practice of general dentistry!

Q.What were early patient reactions to your recommendations of PBM?
A.The most common reaction is the one I still see today in the majority of cases: “Why didn’t my other dentist use this and why does my medical doctor not use PBM?

Q. Did their opinions change after treatment?
A. They are usually just extremely happy that they got what they were promised. PBM is an amazing trust-builder!

Q. Not all lasers are suitable for PBM. What should a dentist look for before making the investment?
A. I believe they need to find a unit where the salesperson understands PBM and where there is a treatment guide that includes proper dosing and instructions that can be validated by research from peer-reviewed journals

Q. Your upcoming webinar is entitled “Dentistry’s New Secret Weapon: Photobiomodulation / Low Level Lasers”. What will be the objective and the main takeaways of your presentation?
A.I have three main goals for webinar attendees:
  • Learn the science behind PBM
  • Understand where PBM can fit into their practice
  • Know where they can learn more and can learn to use PBM safely and effectively including upcoming ALD Annual Conference and Exhibition.
Q. It would seem that hygienists would be well-suited to administer PBM in the dental practice. Do you agree?
A. Absolutely! Many of the applications I talk about are can be incorporated in their daily clinical care. In fact, at ALD some of the most passionate advocates of PBM are dental hygienists who utilize it on a daily basis. Hygienists, when properly trained, and depending on state regulations, can be on the front lines of PBM.

Q. Can PBM be a bridge between medical and dental collaboration, especially when it comes to treating the effects of chemo and radiation therapy?
A. Oral mucositis is a horrible complication for patients undergoing head and neck radiation with or without chemotherapy. These patients are often hospitalized and fed intravenously. It is most often the reason why patients stop treatment!

In late June of this year, the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer/International Society for Oral Oncology ( MASCC/ISOO) passed a motion accepting PBM as an acceptable treatment in managing this condition for which traditional medicine has no successful treatment modality.

Q. What is the Academy of Laser Dentistry’s official position on photobiomodulation?
A. The Academy believes that is one of the most exciting facets of laser dentistry and helps fulfill their mission statement. This is why ALD is sponsoring this webinar.

Q. One last question: Will PBM be well-represented in the upcoming ALD Annual Session in San Diego?
A. There will be a full day of PBM lectures at the meeting in San Diego. In addition, there will be a PBM-specific conference lecture/ workshop the day before the conference and there will be a PBM workshop incorporated into the meeting schedule.

Note: The 27th Annual Conference of the Academy of Laser Dentistry, is April 2-4, 2020 at Paradise Point Island Resort in San Diego, CA. The conference theme is “The Future is NOW: Integrating Technology into Your Practice”. Photobiomodulation will be well-represented in this year’s lectures and workshops and will feature internationally renowned PBM experts such as Dr. Ross.

ALD Staff 2019-07-19
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