Dental procedures can be performed quicker, more effectively and more comfortably thanks to the growing popularity of laser dentistry. Laser (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) technology has been used in various types of medical procedures for years. It is a natural progression for dental offices to follow as dental laser technology continues to improve and patients begin to demand more services from this exciting field. Eventually, dental lasers could make it possible for dentists to access any part of any tooth, thereby totally replacing the need for the traditional dental drill. This may help to relieve the fear and anxiety many people experience when they go to the dentist.
Types of Dental Lasers
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved of a variety of hard and soft tissue lasers for use in the dental treatment of adults and children. Because dental lasers have unique absorption characteristics, they are used to perform specific dental procedures.
• Hard Tissue Lasers: Hard tissue lasers have a wavelength that is highly absorbable by hydroxyapatite (calcium phosphate salt found in bone and teeth) and water, making them more effective for gently cutting through natural tooth structure.
The primary use of hard tissue lasers (Erbium Lasers) is to cut into bone and teeth with extreme precision. Hard tissue lasers are often used in the “prepping” or “shaping” of teeth for composite bonding, the removal of tooth decay and the repair of certain worn down dental fillings.
• Soft Tissue Lasers: Soft tissue lasers represent wavelengths that are highly absorbable by water and hemoglobin (oxygenating protein in red blood cells), making them more effective for soft tissue management. Commonly used soft tissue lasers include CO2 (carbon dioxide) and diode lasers, which may be used as a part of periodontal treatment and have the ability to kill bacteria and activate the re-growth of tissues. The diode laser and the carbon-dioxide laser minimize damage to surrounding tissue and removes tissue faster and with greater accuracy.
Soft tissue lasers penetrate soft tissue while sealing blood vessels and nerve endings. This is the primary reason why many people experience virtually no postoperative pain following the use of a laser. Also, soft tissue lasers allow tissues to heal faster. It is for this reason that a growing number of cosmetic dental practices are incorporating the use of soft tissue lasers for gingival sculpting procedures.
• Diagnostic Lasers: The iTeroTM system is a technology that uses a laser-based wand that scans a patient’s prepared tooth and takes an extremely accurate optic impression for crown and bridge cases. The iTero scan replaces the gagging, gooky impression materials that most patients find very distasteful. Lasers provide energy and specific proteins that help move messages between cells to match the body’s natural ability to use light spectrums to heal damaged cells. Some dental laser technology has been developed that can be used to generate both hard and soft tissue laser energy, depending upon the patient’s needs.
Sciatica is a term referring to pain that originates in the lumbar (lower) spine but is more intense in the thighs, legs and feet. Most often seen in adults between 30 and 50 years of age, almost 50% of us will have sciatica at some point during our lifetimes. If you’ve already experienced an acute attack of sciatica, you know the pain can be incapacitating. It may even be accompanied by numbness, weakness and inability to stand up and walk. Fortunately, relief may be possible with effective non-surgical treatment.
Accurate Diagnosis Is Key
In older people, spinal stenosis may trigger sciatica, but in general, the most common cause is a herniated or ruptured disc. Discs are soft, rubbery pads between the bony vertebrae of the spine. When young, the discs are almost 80% water. As we age, the water content decreases making them less pliable and more susceptible to wear and tear. If the disc’s outer ring of cartilage develops a tear, the inner nucleus can bulge out like toothpaste, putting pressure on surrounding nerves. Even slight amounts of pressure can cause pain, numbness or weakness.
When the herniated disc is in the lower spine it can compress and irritate the lumbar and sacral nerve roots of the sciatic nerve. The sciatic nerve extends many branches as it travels from the spine down the length of each leg. When pinched, pain may be experienced anywhere along the branches, radiating from the buttocks down the backs of the legs and sometimes through the shins and feet.
A good clinical examination, including neurological and musculoskeletal testing, is a must because symptoms are not always typical. Imaging tests such as an MRI scan and EMG/nerve studies are essential to accurately pinpoint the cause and exact location of the nerve root irritation.
Gain Relief Without Surgery
Up to 90% of herniated discs can be treated without surgery. Even for persistent, intense pain, selective epidural injections can provide much needed relief. First used to treat spinal pain in 1901, epidural injections today are extremely accurate and very effective thanks to advanced technology. Using special x-ray equipment called a fluoroscope, physicians are able to see and deliver strong anti-inflammatory medication directly to the inflamed disc and irritated nerves. Up to three injections may be given, usually two to three weeks apart. However, many patients gain considerable relief with the first or second injection.
Covered by most insurances, epidural injections are safely performed in a medical office with local anesthesia. In many cases, pain can be resolved without surgery, general anesthesia, or hospital stays and with little to no down time. In fact, most people return to work afterwards or to other normal activities.
As the weather warms up and you are outside more it is very important to make sure that you are consuming adequate amounts of fluid. Taking in the proper amount of fluid can positively impact your health, weight loss, and even athletic performance.
So you may be asking yourself how much water is enough water? Most people should try to drink a gallon of water a day. However if you’re a person that lives in a warmer climate or works out a lot you should try to drink more water than a gallon. The best way to start is by substituting water for all of your other drinks. Also by leaving a bottle of water in your car and having one at your desk you will make this goal achievable.
Here are just some selected benefits of proper water hydration:
• Kick starts your metabolism
• Acts as a solvent in which many of the body’s nutrients, such as vitamins B and C, dissolve to become bio-available
• Plays a dual role in metabolism: with the help of enzymes, it breaks down food to generate molecules of nutrients such as starches, triglycerides and protein, for easy digestion
• Breaks down bonds to create smaller molecules of glucose, fatty acids and amino acids
• A recent study found that drinking 50 fluid ounces of cold water can help you burn up to an extra 50 calories per day
• Keeps your energy engine firing. If your body can’t get enough fluid from tissue, your cells draw it from your bloodstream. Blood then thickens, putting a strain on your heart, which may make you feel weak, groggy or light-headed.
• Aids in digestion: When food passes through the intestines, the nutrients get absorbed leaving the waste behind.
• Neutralizes acids in the stomach, keeping them from corroding the stomach lining
• Water makes up 70% of our body weight, representing a huge principal chemical component
• Cools the body, maintains muscle tone, skin tone and provide a moist environment for ear, nose and throat tissues
• Flushes out waste products by dissolving excess salt and urea in the kidneys to pass out as urine
• Body enzymes get activated in the presence of water
Now that you can see all of the benefits of proper hydration make sure that you try to stay properly hydrated as we begin to enjoy all of the spring and summer activities.