Ask Marty: I am considering getting a laser for my practice. What kind should I get?

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Q: I am considering getting a laser for my practice. What kind should I get?

A: Wow! That is like asking my family where they want to go for dinner. The answer depends on what you want the laser to do for you and your practice.

You should ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do I want to cut hard tissue, such as tooth and bone?
  • Do I want to use it for minor soft-tissue uses only?
  • Am I looking for it to replace periodontal surgery?
  • Will it be a marketing tool?
  • Am I willing to learn new procedures?

Those are the big questions that need answers prior to investing in laser technology.

For example, if you are interested in hard-tissue procedures, you will need an erbium laser. This type of laser will cut both tooth and bone. It will even cut soft tissue, although it does not coagulate as well as the soft-tissue lasers.

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If you are more interested in using the laser for minor soft-tissue procedures such as troughing around a crown prep, biopsy, or gingivectomy, then a diode laser should do the trick. More involved soft-tissue surgery would best be served by an Nd:Yag laser.

Costs run from $7,000 for an inexpensive diode laser to more than $70,000 for some erbium lasers.

Be sure to do your research and understand the type of laser best suited to you and your practice. Don't buy into the companies' advertising. Go online and read about dental lasers, and ask other dentists who use lasers for their opinions. (Editor's note: Interested in doing a quick product comparison? Check out the lasers listed in the DrBicuspid Buyer's Guide by clicking here.)

You should also ask the various laser companies about service contracts and cost of fibers, handpiece tips, and other consumables. Find out if the company offers training and, if so, what type: a hands-on course given by a dentist or one by the local rep? Some companies just hand you a DVD or CD with the training on it.

Finally, consider your budget and how you plan to pay for the laser. If the idea was to use the laser for marketing, then money should be budgeted for advertising.

Martin Jablow, D.M.D., is a practicing dentist and a self-professed technophile who lectures and blogs on a variety of technologies used in dentistry ( If you have a technology question for Dr. Jablow, e-mail it to us at If we use your question, you'll receive a $10 gift card from Amazon or Starbucks!

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