How Cold Lasers Work…

“Cold Lasers” seem to be the latest Buzz Word in Laser Dentistry. Cold Lasers are also known as “Soft Lasers” or, more scientifically, Biostimulatory Lasers.  As already mentioned in previous posts, these lasers do not cut or vaporise any tissue.  Although often very powerful, these lasers are defocused enough so that the tissue interaction is that of biostimulation and not thermal.

As we have seen earlier, cold lasers can be used for a variety of applications not only in dentistry, but also in medicine.  Their typical application field is that of tissue healing (Well, lately the application of hair re-growth has also been added and actually FDA approved, but there is little if any scientific substantiation to this at this point).

In order for laser light to be absorbed, there must be receptors.  Such receptors are well known in plants, but there are human light receptors other than those in the eyes and the skin.  In fact, to date more than three hundred photochemically reactive proteins, capable of harvesting low light energy, have been identified in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms.  In humans, the most commonly known photochemically active receptor proteins are the rod and cone pigments in the eye.  However, other human photoreceptors have been discovered in recent times.  In fact today, we know that the majority of our cells have photoreactive molecules in them and we call those CHROMOPHORES.

It has been observed that if laser light is administered in the right dose, certain cell functions are being stimulated, and this is particularly evident if the cell in question has an impaired function.  It is known that laser light will cause certain chromophores in our cells to allow the build-up of radical oxygen species (singlet oxygen, instead of O2), which in turn influences the the formation of ATP (Adenosine Tri-Phosphate), which is the cells basic energy and fuel molecule.  Now, if the production of ATP reaches a certain level within cells, this will lead to a host of secondary effects, which have been studied and measured in several contexts:

  • increased cell metabolism and collagen synthesis in fibroblasts
  • increased DNA and RNA formation in the cell nucleus
  • increased cell division cycles
  • increased cell differentiation cycles of primitive cells (stem-type cells)

All of the above cellular effects will translate into faster healing by virtue of an increased population of cells which are involved in the inflammatory and healing cascades of the body.  Bone and soft tissue tend to heal faster and better after surgery, nerve cells can regenerate themselves at higher rates and pain is often reduced due to a laser-induced block of the pain receptor cells.

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