Nav: Home

Study suggests benefits of laser treatments for dental problems

October 20, 2016

Researchers have developed computer simulations showing how lasers attack oral bacterial colonies, suggesting that benefits of using lasers in oral debridement include killing bacteria and promoting better dental health.

In a study published in the journal Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, the researchers show the results of simulations depicting various laser wavelengths aimed at virtual bacterial colonies buried in gum tissue. In humans, actual bacterial colonies can cause gingivitis, or gum inflammation. Gingivitis can develop into periodontal disease, which involves a more serious infection that breaks down the bones and tissues that support teeth.

"The paper verifies or validates the use of lasers to kill bacteria and contribute to better health following periodontal treatments," said co-author Lou Reinisch, Ph.D., associate provost for academic affairs at New York Institute of Technology.

Drawing on his background in physics, optics, and calculus, Reinisch, an expert in laser surgery and an associate editor with the journal, created mathematical models based on optical characteristics of gum tissues and bacteria. He then produced simulations of three different types of lasers commonly used in dentistry and their effects on two types of bacterial colonies of various sizes and depths within the gum models.

"One of the questions we asked is how deep could the bacteria be and still be affected by the laser light," said Reinisch. The simulations indicate that 810 nm diode lasers, when set to short pulses and moderate energy levels, can kill bacteria buried 3 mm deep in the soft tissue of the gums. The 1064 nm Nd:YAG laser is also effective with similar penetration depth. Both lasers spare the healthy tissue with the simulations showing minimal heating of the surrounding tissue. Minimizing the thermal damage leads to faster healing, says Reinisch.

"The findings are important because it opens up the possibility of tweaking the wavelength, power, and pulse duration to be the most effective for killing bacteria," Reinisch says. "The doctors will look at this and say, 'I see there is a possible benefit for my patients in using the laser.'"

"The study reveals what's going on in the tissue, so I hope that we're educating the medical professionals by demonstrating that you can do a good job of killing bacteria with certain lasers," says co-author David Harris, Ph.D., director of Bio-Medical Consultants, Inc., which specializes in medical laser product development. "When you do this treatment, you remove an infection and allow tissue to regenerate. Getting rid of the infection means the tissue can heal without interference."

The cost of dental lasers can range from $5,000 to over $100,000, according to Reinisch, and health care professionals require extra training to use them. These costs are passed on to the patient so Reinisch notes there must be a definite benefit for the patient to justify these costs.

Harris noted that the Academy of Laser Dentistry estimates that at least 25% of US dental offices have dental laser capability for periodontal treatment as outlined in the paper, along with a host of other soft tissue surgical procedures and hard tissue procedures like removal of dental decay.

Harris said the video simulations demonstrate what happens when lasers hit buried bacterial colonies.

"This is a great way to present to the doctor esoteric scientific findings in a clinically meaningful format," he said. "The model is a great tool for making predictions of what can happen in the tissue. Our study confirms its use as a way to determine the most effective laser parameters to use clinically."

In a first for the journal, the published results include video depictions of the computer simulations. The journal readers can actually see the soft tissue of the virtual gums and bacteria heat up and cool down as the simulated laser is scanned over the tissue.

The study's methodology of simulating how laser light interacts with tissue has implications beyond dentistry; physicians and surgeons use lasers in various treatments, including vocal cord procedures and dermatological treatments, including those for toenail fungus.

Guided by the results presented in this study, both Reinisch and Harris expect that clinical trials will be designed to validate the findings.

The study, entitled "Selective Photoantisepsis," is published in the October issue of Lasers in Surgery and Medicine.
-end-


New York Institute of Technology

Related Bacteria Articles:

Conducting shell for bacteria
Under anaerobic conditions, certain bacteria can produce electricity. This behavior can be exploited in microbial fuel cells, with a special focus on wastewater treatment schemes.
Controlling bacteria's necessary evil
Until now, scientists have only had a murky understanding of how these relationships arise.
Bacteria take a deadly risk to survive
Bacteria need mutations -- changes in their DNA code -- to survive under difficult circumstances.
How bacteria hunt other bacteria
A bacterial species that hunts other bacteria has attracted interest as a potential antibiotic, but exactly how this predator tracks down its prey has not been clear.
Chlamydia: How bacteria take over control
To survive in human cells, chlamydiae have a lot of tricks in store.
Stress may protect -- at least in bacteria
Antibiotics harm bacteria and stress them. Trimethoprim, an antibiotic, inhibits the growth of the bacterium Escherichia coli and induces a stress response.
'Pulling' bacteria out of blood
Magnets instead of antibiotics could provide a possible new treatment method for blood infection.
New findings detail how beneficial bacteria in the nose suppress pathogenic bacteria
Staphylococcus aureus is a common colonizer of the human body.
Understanding your bacteria
New insight into bacterial cell division could lead to advancements in the fight against harmful bacteria.
Bacteria are individualists
Cells respond differently to lack of nutrients.

Related Bacteria Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Digital Manipulation
Technology has reshaped our lives in amazing ways. But at what cost? This hour, TED speakers reveal how what we see, read, believe — even how we vote — can be manipulated by the technology we use. Guests include journalist Carole Cadwalladr, consumer advocate Finn Myrstad, writer and marketing professor Scott Galloway, behavioral designer Nir Eyal, and computer graphics researcher Doug Roble.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#529 Do You Really Want to Find Out Who's Your Daddy?
At least some of you by now have probably spit into a tube and mailed it off to find out who your closest relatives are, where you might be from, and what terrible diseases might await you. But what exactly did you find out? And what did you give away? In this live panel at Awesome Con we bring in science writer Tina Saey to talk about all her DNA testing, and bioethicist Debra Mathews, to determine whether Tina should have done it at all. Related links: What FamilyTreeDNA sharing genetic data with police means for you Crime solvers embraced...