Are low-level lasers helpful after third-molar surgery?

The application of low-level laser energy does not appear to have much effect in reducing pain, swelling, and trismus following third-molar surgery, according to a new study in Lasers in Medical Science (May 26, 2011).

Researchers from the Barcelona University Dental School evaluated the analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of a low-level laser therapy (Laser Smile, Biolase) applied to the wound following the surgical removal of impacted lower third molars.

Their prospective, randomized, double-blind study involved 20 healthy patients (11 women, nine mean; mean age 23.35 years) with two symmetrically impacted lower third molars. Low-level laser energy was applied randomly on one of the two sides after surgery. The experimental side received 5 J/cm2 of 810-nm energy at an output power of 0.5 W. On the control side, a handpiece was applied intraorally but the laser was not activated.

The researchers found that the pain level in the first hours after surgery was lower in the experimental side than in the placebo side, although without statistically significant differences (p = 0.258). In addition, swelling and trismus at the second and seventh postoperative days were slightly higher in the control side, although no statistically significant differences were detected (p > 0.05).

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