When a patient sits in a WaterLase dentist’s chair, they may only think they are about to experience the absolute best/coolest/amazing way to take care of many dental situations. What they may not realize is that they are also taking part in a major revolution in dentistry – that also has a very interesting history.
Evidence has found that dentistry was practiced as early as 7000 BC in the valleys of Pakistan, where the practitioners of the time used bow drills to remedy some dental issues of their patients. Fast forward to the 19th century, and you would find that just about anyone could try to resolve dental problems – including the local barber!
Thankfully, technology has advanced. In modern times, dental practitioners have found effective ways not just to fix issues, but to prevent them as well. Proper brushing, flossing, and the introduction of fluoride reduced the occurrence of problems, while anesthesia helped patients when having to undergo painful procedures.
And the procedures themselves have also come a long way. Wanting more effective and precise methods of filling cavities, completing root canals, and resolving other issues, dentists experimented with new technologies to help with both the ease of procedures but patient comfort too. With that goal in mind came the birth of dental lasers. In the early 1960s, the first ruby laser was developed for dental experimentation and clinical studies, and that ushered in an era of technological advancements. Over the years, other wavelengths were studied and developed for both hard and soft tissue applications, including cutting teeth. While many of these experiments ended badly, those by BIOLASE did not.
As the years progressed, in 1988 BIOLASE learned that when some wavelengths were merged with water, they could cut teeth without damage to either the tooth or bone. Since then, BIOLASE kept researching new ways to cut both teeth and soft tissue more safely and effectively through the use of dental lasers. Their researchers also found that a unique crystal made of erbium, chromium, yttrium, and more, used with a certain wavelength created the most efficient dental laser to date. Thus the cutting-edge WaterLase technology was born. Not only did it require less anesthesia, but the resulting dental distress was greatly reduced as compared to a conventional drill.
In the early 1990s, clearance for the use of lasers for the gums was obtained. In 1990, the first pulsed laser developed specifically for the dental market was released. Then in 1997, clearance for the use of the first true dental laser for hard tissue to treat sustained tooth decay was received.
In 1998, BIOLASE was allowed to use their WaterLase technology for hard tissue procedures. In 1999, they received clearance for Class I-V caries removal, etching, and hard tissue roughening.
With continued improvements and refinements, dental lasers have greatly reduced the need for stitches or anesthesia, and any resulting bleeding, and pain has also been minimized. BIOLASE is happy to be a part of those developments.