Researchers have found an additional use for the high-tech dental lasers used mainly to prepare cavities for restoration.
According to a new study conducted by researchers in Austria, these advanced dental lasers can now help eliminate bacteria in root canals.
The study credits the progress of miniaturized, flexible fiber tips for allowing the laser to be used in endodontic (root canal) treatment.
Dr. Ulrich Schoop and a team of researchers in the dental school at the University of Vienna used 60 extracted human teeth with one root each to analyse the effects of laser irradiation on root canals using an erbium, chromium:yttrium-scandium-gallium-garnet (Er,Cr:YSGG) laser.
Dr. Schoop and colleagues vaccinated the root canals with one of two types of bacteria (Enterococcus faecalis and Escherichia coli) and then irradiated the canals using either a 1- or 1.5-watt power setting.
The team found that the laser reduced the amount of E. coli at the lower power setting and reduced it to below the detection level at the higher setting. They also found that it was effective in eliminating E. faecalis as well.
Researchers found, too, that the laser removed the smear layer and debris from the root canal walls and that the temperature rise during irradiation was within safe borders.
The authors concluded that the Er,Cr:YSGG laser may be suitable for cleaning and disinfecting root canals and that it can be used safely if the common precautions for using lasers are observed and the energy levels and irradiation times are within the proposed range. They also suggested that clinical studies are needed to substantiate their laboratory findings.
The study is published in the July issue of The Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA).