Why did we get a new laser? We had been using the iLase dental laser from Biolase. It’s a pen-like device that belongs to a subset
of lasers called “diode” lasers. How it works is the tip is “initiated” by something like cork or blue paper before each use, which then focuses the laser energy at the tip of the laser during use and makes it very hot. The laser is then used to remove the tissue by essentially searing it off or cauterizing it. The laser has beneficial properties for tissues like “photobiomodulation” and other fancy terms, but for the most part, it’s a very hot tip. This style of laser (diode) is the most commonly used laser in dentistry, and it works well for many soft tissue procedures, but it takes a long time.
However, in the quest for the best all-around laser for our patients, I came across CO2, Er:YAG, and Er,Cr:YSGG. We went with CO2 because it acts differently than the other lasers. A diode laser is a white-hot tip that sears the tissue, whereas the Erbium and CO2 lasers work by vaporizing the water in the cells (which means much less of the “burning” smell that was present with the diode laser). Weighing all the options, I felt that the laser with the least intraoperative and postoperative pain, quickest procedure time, minimal to no bleeding, and fastest healing was the CO2 laser. Ours is sold by LightScalpel.
The procedure with the LightScalpel is about 10-20 seconds for the upper lip and about 10-20 seconds for the tongue. With the diode, sometimes it would take 60-120 seconds for the upper lip and 60 seconds for the tongue. When performing these procedures, we allow the parents back (or they can choose to remain in the consult room), and many times that is the longest 5 minutes of a parent’s life! If we can decrease the time it takes for the procedure, the better it is for the clinical team, the parent, and of course, the child.
So what does this mean in English? This means less discomfort for the baby or child with a lip or tongue tie during and after the procedure and a quicker procedure in the office.
For these reasons and more, although the CO2 laser is significantly more expensive, I believe it’s a great investment for our practice and especially for our littlest patients. We are one of the only offices in Alabama with a CO2 laser and the only office in Alabama using a CO2 laser for infants, children, and teens with tongue and lip ties. Please call our office if you have any questions about this post or would like to schedule an appointment. 205-419-7444.