Dr. Nammy Patel, founder of Green Dentistry in San Francisco, California, discusses laser dentistry. She is the author of the best selling book, Age With Style: Guide To A Youthful Smile and Healthy Living.

John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Dr. Nammy Patel, founder of Green Dentistry in San Francisco, California, helping patients recognize the vital connection between dental health and whole body health and author of the best selling book, Age With Style: Guide To A Youthful Smile and Healthy Living. Today our topic is laser dentistry. Welcome, Dr. Nammy.

Dr. Nammy Patel: Hi, John.

What Is Laser Dentistry?

John: So Dr. Nammy, what is laser dentistry? Explain that to me.

Dr. Nammy: So, laser dentistry actually stands, it’s an acronym, it means a light amplification stimulation emission of radiation. It is called a laser. It’s kind of like the laser you use when you’re doing a PowerPoint presentation and there’s a laser that you use to point and it shows you the area of attention. In dentistry, we have specific lasers or are specific to certain frequencies that can actually do dental work, which is wonderful.

What Dental Issues Can Be Treated with Lasers?

John: What kinds of issues can be treated with lasers?

Dr. Nammy: So lasers can be used for a number of things. Actually in many things. I use lasers a lot in my practice. The first one is removing cavities. We also sterilize and disinfect the gum pockets. Also, we do something called photobiostimulation. So what that means, it actually helps your gums, your body heal better. The other day I had a patient who actually ended up walking into a door and he had scraped his lip. What we did is we used a laser to help stimulate his own immune system to start healing. We saw him a day later and the scab was completely gone.

Are Lasers FDA Approved?

John: Amazing. So are the lasers covered by the FDA? Is that an approved type of practice?

Dr. Nammy: Yes, the lasers are. The lasers are covered by the FDA. They’ve actually gone through vigorous testing and there’s specific indications for it. So there’s lasers for photobiostimulation like we talked about. There’s different lasers to remove cavities. There are certain different lasers to bleach your teeth. There’s also different lasers that can do surgery and things of that nature. So each laser has a specification that has been tried and tested for many years to get the FDA approval.

Advantages of Lasers

John: What are some of the advantages of using lasers over traditional methods?

Dr. Nammy: The first one for cavities is no shots. Isn’t that nice?

John: Yeah.

Dr. Nammy: Absolutely. Then the other thing that I really like is when I work with lasers, with the gums or aesthetics or anything of that nature, what I find is that the lasers heal so well and quickly and there’s less swelling, patients are more comfortable and that’s really what I really love about using lasers is that we’re able to deliver dentistry faster, great quality and more comfortable.

Lasers for Cavities

John: So, explain how it is that you’re able to use the laser for cavities and you don’t even require having shots. Is it just that laser is somehow bypassing any of those nerve endings that I feel pain with? Or how is that working?

Dr. Nammy: So what it does, there are specific lasers that you can use to actually remove decay and what they actually do as first desensitize the actual nerve. So what it does is that you don’t really feel it and then there’s also copious amounts of water that is being utilized so that way the nerve endings actually feel heat. So the cavity lasers are actually cold lasers, meaning that there’s a lot of water that goes along with it so that way the nerve doesn’t really feel anything because it just thinks it’s just water. So we kind of-

John: With a normal drill or whatever, that drill is making heat in your tooth and that’s what’s causing the pain.

Dr. Nammy: Yes.

John: Okay. So, talk a little bit more about how that feels when you’re getting that laser treatment. Are you feeling anything at all? Is there any pain?

Dr. Nammy: So the first thing I always like to do is show my patients how it works on their hands so you can actually see what the laser feels like. The laser actually feels, initially you would think it’d be really scary, but it feels like just water prickling on your finger or on your tooth. Once that, you use water for about 30 seconds or so, you don’t really feel a thing at all because your body just gets used to that sensation. It’s the same pathway that stimulates a touch feel. So it just feels like somebody is touching your tooth and that’s it. There is a lot of water. You do hear a sound because you can hear the laser and the water running. So you do hear that. But these cavities get filled so quickly and so efficiently that patients are just so happy not to get that shot.

John: I imagine with the water, it’s similar to when I’m at my regular dentist and they have a little tube in my mouth that’s sort of sucking up all of the extra water, that sort of thing. So I’m not constantly getting my mouth filled with water, et cetera.

Dr. Nammy: No, no, no, no. What we use in our practice is something that helps you keep your jaw open and actually shocks, just takes all the saliva out at the same time. So that way you’re feeling very comfortable throughout. I mean, I can do four to five fillings in 20 minutes.

John: That’s amazing. Yeah. Thanks for speaking with me today, Dr. Nammy about laser dentistry.

Dr. Nammy: My pleasure, John.

John: For more information about Green Dentistry, visit the website@sfgreendentist.com or call 415-578-9347.