Laser Physics Applied to Technique Increases ROI

By Aric Sven, Founder of Sventech

In this article we will shine some photons on the physics of lasers and how knowledge of this subject can improve the art of dentistry when applied to technique. There is no way I can cover all the various dental laser wavelengths in depth with a short article. However, I am hopeful this article will peak your interest in educating yourself past the presets on your laser’s control pad. Over the past 3 decades there have been many manufacturers with well-respected engineers bringing laser technology to our operatories. Articles on each wavelength have been written. There are many procedures that any given dental laser can perform and each has a niche depending upon its unique absorption characteristics in target tissues. To understand this we must have knowledge of the physics of each particular laser.


First let us look at the laser medium being used. Common examples in dentistry are the diodes, Nd:YAG, erbiums, and CO2. They all produce a specific wavelength characteristic to that medium. Then we can look at the absorption coefficient of that wavelength in the target tissue. Different wavelengths act differently on the various target tissues. We use terms like scatter, transmittance, and absorption to describe this interaction. This is the very minimal knowledge needed to operate a laser safely. A laser is much more than a knife or a drill. A knife cuts, plain and simple. Depending on the force applied, it will scratch or cut deep. A drill is a bit more sophisticated as you can vary the speed depending on what force you want to apply to the target tissue. “Force” in lasers is measured in Joules. Even the simplest laser operating in continuous mode with one power or Joule setting can do much more than these simple tools. We can use a laser in contact mode, noncontact mode, with initiation, without initiation, dry or wet, and perform many different procedures.


Thirty years ago free-running Nd:YAG lasers entered dentistry built with one pulse duration. User-selectable settings were energy (millijoules) and pulse rate (pulses per second or Hz). Diodes also had two changeable settings, gated or continuous emission modes and average power levels. Today’s lasers are much more sophisticated and often come with easy-to-use software, colorful LCD displays, and touchscreen interfaces. Most come with common presets and others with built-in tutorial pictures or videos. The laser physics remains the same. Understanding the physics will increase the quantity of procedures you perform and help your technique. This in turn will increase your return on investment (ROI). Power density, peak power, numerical aperture, target tissue absorption, pulse duration, average power, pulse waveform are all terms to understand. Knowing what these terms mean and the physics of how they respond to target tissue will improve the quality of your artistry.


I hope this article has sparked your interest to learn more about the wavelength of your laser to increase the number of uses while improving techniques. There are a lot of advanced courses to help you achieve this knowledge.


In the next article we will learn about marketing and its impact on ROI. I hope you join us and happy lasing until then!

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Comments on "Laser Physics Applied to Technique Increases ROI"

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Charles M. Carpenter - Friday, February 26, 2021

Very informative and concise article. Charles Carpenter DMD

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