Biolase WaterLase iPlus Why the First True All-tissue Laser Was Worth the Wait
If, like most general dentists, you've been reluctant to jump on the hard-tissue laser bandwagon, this could well be the perfect time to reconsider.
It's not hard to understand why most general dentists stayed away (in droves) from the soft-tissue lasers of the 1990s, which were huge (both in size and in cost) and limited in potential applications. Over the next 10 to 15 years, soft-tissue lasers got smaller and less expensive, but the improvements needed to make hard- or all-tissue lasers practical for clinical use lagged behind; the systems were too slow, too big, and didn't have enough power to justify the investment.
In 1997, I jumped at the chance to buy Biolase's first hard-tissue laser and, with the Millennium, was finally able to cut teeth without a drill (and without anesthetic). This was a big step up from air abrasion, but I still didn't have the speed I'd hoped for. Subsequent incarnations were a bit smaller and better, but speed remained the deal-breaker.
Finally, with the introduction of the WaterLase iPlus just months ago, my wait is over.
The iPlus is a true all-tissue laser system. It cuts everything but amalgam, has double the energy of it predecessor (600 mJ versus 300 mJ), has a shorter (50-microsecond) pulse, and finally gives me the cutting speed I?d always envisioned in an all-tissue laser.
To date, I've used the iPlus for hardand soft-tissue procedures in 200 to 300 patients, and am now able to cut not only soft tissue, but also bone and teeth at a speed that rivals high-speed drills.
The ability to perform single-tooth and whole-mouth preps without anesthetic has opened the door to a range of applications, from cavity prep, to crown lengthening, to work around implants, to perio and endo. With double the energy and half the pulse, I can cut posterior teeth in only a minute or 2 while optimizing patient comfort and reducing anxiety. The soft, flexible fiber is an added plus.
A course is included in the purchase price (currently $65,000 or less than $1000 per month on a finance agreement) and the learning curve is generally a result of the dentist?s hesitation to use sufficient power/water spray. Once you're comfortable with the system, you can expect to do 90% to 95% of procedures without anesthetic, with the exception of ultra-sensitive patients.
As you'd expect, the iPlus is a dream come true for patients who dread the drill and/or injections, and patient satisfaction has been fantastic. They respond well to my explanation of the spray as "energized water" and, while probably just as loud as the drill, the popcorn popper-like sound doesn't faze them at all.
Patients are relieved that I can do cavity preps in all 4 quadrants without the need for anesthetic. It's also beneficial for my senior patients, who can be sensitive to the effects of anesthetic. For older patients with gingival decay, I can cut away soft tissue at the gum line without bleeding. A simple setting change then allows me to cut teeth or cut out old interproximal composites with underlying decay.
After 3 months of testing for Biolase, my iPlus has arrived (in Ferrari red). I think this is the company's crowning achievement. The applications are nearly limitless, and the average dentist will easily use it a dozen times each day.