By Theresa Pablos, DrBicuspid.com associate editor

June 13, 2017 -- With dentin hypersensitivity being one of the most common complaints of patients, general dentists and periodontists are eager to find ways to ease patient discomfort. Recent research suggests that laser therapy is a promising option.

Researchers from Barcelona, Spain, tested the effectiveness of laser therapy on patients who experienced dentin hypersensitivity following basic periodontal therapy. They published their findings in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dentistry (May 1, 2017).

"Our results indicated significantly decreased pain scores at post-treatment evaluations for red wavelength low-intensity diode laser," wrote the authors, led by Cristina Garcia-Delaney, DDS. "No relapse of sensitivity was detected for this treatment."

Dr. Garcia-Delaney is pursuing her master's degree in oral surgery and orofacial implantology at the University of Barcelona.

Laser therapy appears effective

Dentin hypersensitivity is one of the most commonly reported causes of discomfort by patients, especially for patients with periodontal disease or those who have had periodontal treatment. Because previous studies have found that laser treatment shows promise in reducing hypersensitivity more than traditional treatments, the researchers wanted further explored this trend.

“The use of red wavelength diode laser may be effective in the short-term treatment of cervical dentinal hypersensitivity.”
— Cristina Garcia-Delaney, DDS, and colleagues

The researchers enrolled 30 participants who experienced dentin hypersensitivity following scaling and root planing in a randomized clinical trial. To qualify, patients needed to experience hypersensitivity in at least two teeth in different quadrants, as well as not have potentially confounding sensitivity factors, such as orthodontic treatment or recent teeth whitening.

The researchers then used laser therapy on teeth in one quadrant or side. Specifically, they used the Thor LX2 (Thor Photomedicine) laser at a distance of 5 mm for 60 seconds. The laser was programmed for a wavelength of 660 nm, power of 200 mW, and a treatment area of 1.15 cm2. On the other side or quadrant, they researchers simulated laser treatment as a control.

In the end, the study included 60 control and 60 experimental teeth. Patients reported their pain before and after treatment using a visual analog scale (VAS), which allows patients to indicate their pain level by placing a point on a continuous line. Higher scores mean higher levels of pain.

Reported VAS scores for control and experimental groups
VAS score
control teeth
VAS score
laser-treated teeth
Before treatment 47.7 mm 50.4 mm
Immediately after treatment 41.5 mm 23.2 mm
2 weeks after treatment 34.4 mm 18.1 mm
1 month after treatment 34.5 mm 17.1 mm
2 months after treatment 39.1 mm 18.35 mm

Patients reported significantly less pain for teeth treated with laser therapy, both immediately after treatment and throughout the two-month study period. In addition, none of the patients experienced adverse effects of complications from laser treatment.

"In the present study, participants who complained of [dentin hypersensitivity] in the follow up after basic periodontal therapy were evaluated for tactile and thermal nociceptive sensitivity," the authors wrote. "[Our study] found the treatment with the diode laser effective in a short-term time period, but we found significant differences in all evaluation periods, too."

Still a need for long-term studies

While the trial was randomized, the participants and the administrators were not blinded. Although the patients did not know which teeth the laser was active for, they did know the premise of the study.

The researchers hope future studies continue to test the effectiveness of lasers used at this wavelength. Their results show that laser therapy appears to be effective, although they would like more long-term studies to verify the results.

"The data in this randomized controlled trial suggest that the use of red wavelength diode laser may be effective in the short-term treatment of cervical dentinal hypersensitivity," the authors concluded. "Long-term evaluations of the effectiveness of these treatments needs to be carried out to know the stability of the results and if relapse occurs."


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