Frequently Asked Questions
What is a
A laser is a device that converts electrical power from the wall into coherent, monochromatic and collimated
light capable of changing a target substance, such as human tissues. The tissues are modified due to thermal
effects produced by the light.
Where does the word
laser come from?
Laser is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.
What is it about laser light that gives it a surgical capability?
Various wavelengths differ in their affinity for a target tissue. Once identified, this affinity for a tissue
can be used to create a laser that produces that specific wavelength. These waves of radiant energy can often
pass through one tissue without changes to that tissue and still modify another deeper tissue. An example is
the lithotripsy to smash kidney stones.
What is the significance of wavelength to lasers?
Electromagnetic waves are radiant energy that are arranged by their frequency (oscillations per second) and by
the wavelength (distance between the crest of a wave and the corresponding crest on the next wave). In dental
lasers, they are measured in microns or nanometers. The Odyssey Diode Laser operates at 810+/-20 nm. The
Biolase Waterlase MD operates at a wavelength = 2,780 nm for hard tissue and
When were lasers for dentistry introduced?
In 1982, Directed Energy, Inc. and Pfizer introduced the carbon dioxide (CO2) gas laser for dentistry.
What types of lasers are used in dentistry?
Lasers are identified by the active medium that they use to create their energy, such as gases, types of rods,
dye types, or the wavelength of the diode they use.
Solid State (rod style): Er:YAG, YSGG
Gas: Carbon Dioxide, Argon
What is a diode?
A diode is any device through which electricity can flow in one direction . When used in the old crystal
radios, a diode was referred to as a rectifier. Diodes are made from semiconductor crystals that emit light
when an electrical current is passed through them and the light can be focused into a small dot.
What is the diode in the Odyssey Diode Laser made from?
The major component of a diode laser is the semiconductor chip or crystal. The diode in the Odyssey laser is
made from Aluminum, Gallium and Arsenide, commonly referred to as AIGaAs.
What is the
diode in the Waterlase MD Laser made from?
Er,Cr:YSGG -- which stands for Erbium, Chromium doped Yttrium Scandium Gallium Garnet
How is the laser delivered to the affected tissue?
All dental diodes use a fiber optic delivery system. Diode fibers have three major components: the core, which
is usually silica, quartz, sapphire, or a combination; cladding, which is the protective coating that is
applied to the exterior of the core and that prevents laser energy from escaping laterally; and the jacket,
which is the exterior of the fiber that helps to protect it from damage.
How safe is the Odyssey Diode Laser?
This laser is classified as a Class IV laser, which places it in the category of potentially hazardous,
requiring specific safety measures when used as a dental or medical laser.
The Odyssey Diode Laser has been certified to
the latest safety standards applicable to medical lasers in the US and Canada including IEC 60825, IEC
60601 and the Food and Drug Administration's Laser Performance Standard (21 CFR 1040.10 and 1040.11.
Protective eyewear is included with the Odyssey and special eye protection filters which mount on the
doctor’s magnification systems have be purchased and are used whenever the laser is used.
All safety factors are set out
in the Owner's Manual and have been reviewed by all of our office staff.
How do I assure the safe
operation of the Laser?
We recommend implementation of a Laser Safety Program appropriate for your dental office. The plan may include
Delegation of authority and responsibility for supervision and control of the laser to a Laser Safety
Minimum Training requirements for users of the laser
Laser security against unauthorized use of the laser
Standard operating procedures to regulate the work environment in order to protect the patient and office staff
from laser hazards
For more information on the
contents of a Laser Safety Plan, you can review ANSI Standard Z136.3 for Safe User of Lasers in Health Care
Is the aiming beam hazardous?
The aiming beam is a Class II laser and requires special training and protective eyewear when using the
Is this laser harmful to the operator, their staff or their patient?
There is the potential for damage to the retina of the eye and to the skin on their bodies if proper safety
measures are not followed. All safety factors are identified in the Odyssey's Owner Manual.
How can damage to the skin and eyes be avoided?
Damage can be prevented by avoiding contact with the fiber tip while lasing, wearing safety eyewear designed to
protect against the 810nm wavelength when using the Odyssey Diode Laser (i.e., patient, dentist and staff) and
by wearing proper garments on areas that may suffer inadvertent fiber contact. Since eyewear varies in terms of
the wavelengths it will protect the wearer against, be certain to verify that eyewear has the optical density
of 4+ or greater in order to have proper protection for the 810nm diode.
Do you need to be certified to use a laser?
No, not in most States. The Dental Practice Acts of most States have allowed dentists to be self-regulating in
determining what equipment they are qualified to use. Laser dentists from around the world have established an
organization the Academy of Laser Dentistry to provide laser training and to share technique information.
The Academy is dedicated to providing certification training for both the dentists and their
In addition to attending
other laser training training lectures and demonstrations, Dr. Rosenberg participated in this
Two-day 12-hour course that included lectures on Laser Types, Physics and Safety, Laser Applications in
Dentistry, an Overview of Dental Lasers available today for dentistry. There was also a written
examination, a verbal exam on the Odyssey Soft Tissue Laser use and safety, as well as a three-hour hands on
practical where we had to demonstrate proficiency in the use of both soft tissue (Diode and NdYAG) and hard
tissue (Biolase and Hoya ConBio Erbium) lasers on pig jaws for both soft tissue, tooth (cavity) preparation and
bone surgery. Both of the doctors passed all of the parts of that program and are now certified in
Currently, dental hygienists in 33 States are allowed to provide debridement and decontamination therapy using
a laser. No States allow auxiliary personnel other than hygienists to use a laser.
What procedures can the Odyssey Diode Laser be used for?
The Odyssey is a soft-tissue diode laser and can be used for a variety of procedures, including:
Gingivectomy, Gingivoplasty, Operculectomy
Recovering dental implants
Treating inflammation around implants
Troughing for impressions
Treating aphthous ulcers
Incising and draining abscesses
Fibroma removal and biopsies
Sealing lymphatics in the surgical area
Other soft-tissue procedures for which the Odyssey can be used are:
Reducing sulcular oral bacteria and other flora
Recontouring interproximal tissue
Accelerating healing for split lips
Soft tissue debridement
How is treatment with a soft-tissue laser different from conventional methods?
First, the patient’s acceptance is greater. The laser is more efficient and sometimes faster. There is less
postoperative discomfort for the patient, and the bacteria levels in affected areas are reduced. Additionally,
there is virtually no collateral damage to healthy tissue, and anesthesia is not necessarily required. Overall,
laser dental procedures are safer, and there is a decreased healing time.
Why do most dentists who specialize in cosmetic dentistry prefer a diode laser?
The 810nm diode wavelength is the most popular laser among cosmetic dentists and their hygienists because it is
easy to use, easy to transport, and easy to care for. When used correctly, the laser energy will not be
attracted to the cementum or dentin found in the cervical area of the tooth, where most procedures in cosmetic
dentistry are performed. Additionally, the small fiber diameters are very exacting.
Why would a dentist buy an 810nm diode laser, as opposed to a CO2 or Erbium laser?
There are a number of reasons. Those lasers carry a higher unit cost, and the size of the unit takes up counter
space and limits portability. There is limited access within the mouth, and accessories may be costly.
Additionally, precision in performing soft-tissue care may be compromised, and their use by hygienists may be
Can’t a hard tissue laser be used for soft tissue procedures?
A hard tissue laser is wavelength specific to water and, therefore, can be used clinically on both hard and
soft tissues. However, care must be taken to avoid unwanted interactions on root surfaces. For many cosmetic
and periodontal indications, a soft tissue laser is more efficient.
With the Biolase Waterlase
MD we can switch between Soft and Hard Tissue modes with the touch screen, as well as change the power, water
and air settings for the specific treatment we are providing.