Lasers in dental hygiene: An interview with Michael Ramsey, DDS
Amber Auger, MPH, RDH, interviews Michael Ramsey, DDS, about lasers in dental hygiene.
Amber Auger, MPH, RDH
Tell us about your dental background.
I went to undergrad and dental school at West Virginia University, graduating in 1993. I went right into private practice, where I was dedicated to providing patient care at very high levels. I have taken hundreds of hours of continuing education, always looking to learn something new, and was a clinical instructor at Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies (LVI). I am also a published researcher in the International Association for Dental Research (IADR).
Why did you decide to go into dentistry?
I had a terrible dentist growing up, so that definitely helped with my thought process. Sometime around the age of 13, I had already decided it was what I wanted to do.
What has been the best aspect of your career?
I have always enjoyed the ability to learn and stay on the cutting edge of all the new technologies. I also enjoy getting to know my patients and hearing their life stories.
When did you start working with a laser?
I began using a laser at LVI in 1999. ADT Dental was running a sale on lasers, so I bought one and took ADT’s three-day course to learn how to use it. I began incorporating it into my practice immediately.
What brand of laser do you use and why?
I use a Pioneer Elite soft-tissue laser. I like that one in particular because it has different sizes and lengths of disposable tips, and it has both customizable and preprogrammed settings by type of procedure, which makes it user-friendly for hygienists, as well. I like the disposable tips because they don’t need to be cleaved.
How do you use the laser with your patients? Are there services that your patients are seeking, other than periodontal therapy?
I have used lasers for many things: crown lengthening, gingivectomy, gingival recontouring for esthetics, in place of cord for crown impressions, instead of chemicals for hemostasis, and pigment removal. I have had patients come to me knowing we use lasers and that lasers can be used to help alleviate aphthous ulcers and cold sores (which they do, like a charm).
What value has the laser brought to your practice?
It has made some procedures easier and results more predictable. For example, when using electrosurgery to trim gingiva for cosmetic reasons, I’m never sure whether the gingival margin will stay or move. The laser almost guarantees the margin will stay where I’ve trimmed it.
How have your hygienists worked with the laser?
They use the laser mainly for perio treatment after scaling and root planing. All the hygienists I’ve known love the laser once they’ve used it.
For first-time laser users, what resources do you recommend?
Take a couple of hands-on laser courses first, in addition to online or classroom courses. Also, I think it’s helpful to look over someone’s shoulder, whether a dentist or hygienist, while that person is using the laser to get an appreciation of all that a laser can do.
Where do you see the future of lasers going?
I think lasers will eventually be the primary treatment for periodontal disease. I think they will replace the hand instruments. Cavitron and lasers are all you’re going to need to get great results. You can go deeper into the pockets and sterilize the area, all with greater comfort for the patients.
Amber Auger, MPH, RDH, is a hygienist with experience in multiple clinical settings. She obtained a master’s degree in public health from the University of New England and a bachelor’s in dental hygiene from the University of New Haven. She works part time at an elite dental office in Boston. She is a key opinion leader for several dental companies, a speaker, and a published author. Contact her at amberaugerrdh.com.
Michael Ramsey, DDS, graduated from West Virginia University Dental School. He was a published researcher, a clinical instructor at LVI, and a product tester for dental companies. He has been in private practice for 25 years, with an emphasis in reconstructive and cosmetic dentistry. He is also an avid cyclist and outdoorsman.