Diode Lasers And Dental Electrosurges
One debate that has raged for a long time in the field of dentistry is the question of which is better: electrosurgery units or dental diode soft tissue lasers. Both sides on this issue have strong opinions and clinical data to back them up. What are the advantages and disadvantages of each? What is the current relationship between diode lasers and electrosurges today? Read on for more information.
How Do Electrosurgery Units Work?
Electrosurgery units use an electric current to burn away soft tissue. There are two main types of electrosurges: monopolar and bipolar.
Monopolar electrosurgery units emit an electric current that travels down the handpiece to an electrode at the handpiece’s end, then from the electrode, through the procedure site, to a grounding pad placed beneath the patient’s back. As you’ll see from the advantages and disadvantages section below, patients may become concerned when you have to explain that the pad’s purpose is to conduct electric current from the handpiece electrode and through their bodies. (Although we’re sure you’ve developed more tactful ways of explaining this.)
Those of you who use them understand that bipolar electrosurgical units are much more comfortable for patients because the electric current travels between two electrodes on the handpiece itself. This means no grounding pad is needed. As a result, these units are more expensive than monopolar models. Their cuts are also less precise.
How Do Diode Lasers Work?
Dental lasers create their beams by stimulating an “active medium” inside the machine with light or electricity. In the case of diode lasers, this active medium is a specialized semiconductor. The laser beam can then be directed at soft oral tissue to “cut” or burn away the desired amounts of tissue.
As we’re sure many of you know, diode lasers have become very popular in recent years because they have dropped significantly in price and because they are compact and easy to use, (though there is definitely a learning curve involved when purchasing one for the first time).
Advantages and Disadvantages of Lasers and Electrosurges
Instead of writing lengthy paragraphs to explain the main advantages and disadvantages of diode lasers and electrosurges, we thought we’d save you some time by simply displaying the simple chart below. Check it out.
|Electrodes cut on their side, resulting in fast cutting||Cuts in front, resulting in slower cutting|
|Electrodes can be bent to accommodate contouring and irregularities||Laser beam cuts straight out from handpiece|
|Electrodes are self-disinfecting||Laser tips need to be replaced or disinfected after use|
|Wound is nearly painless after cutting||Wound is nearly painless after cutting|
|During cutting, anesthesia is required||During cutting, little or no anesthesia is required|
|Explanation of treatment is likely to cause patient anxiety||Explanation of treatment is usually accepted positively by patients|
|Cannot be used around implants and fillings because of generated heat||Can be used around implants and fillings|
|Monopolar units are inexpensive; bipolar units are generally more expensive than diode lasers||Moderately inexpensive, but usually costs more than monopolar electrosurges|
Diode Lasers and Electrosurgical Units Today
Diode lasers have generally become a key part of many dental practices, often replacing the role of electrosurges. Currently, most diode lasers are cheaper than bipolar electrosurgery units, which increases their appeal even more. This trend will likely continue. The diode laser will likely replace the electrosurge entirely one day.
What about you? Which unit do you prefer? Whether it's electrosurges or diode lasers, we sell both. Check them out in our store.