During the last few years, ultra-short laser pulses have proven their potential for application in medical tissue treatment in many ways. In hard tissue ablation, their aptitude for material ablation with negligible collateral damage provides many advantages. Especially teeth representing an anatomically and physiologically very special region with less blood circulation and lower healing rates than other tissues require most careful treatment. Hence, overheating of the pulp and induction of microcracks are some of the most problematic issues in dental preparation.
Up till now it was shown by many authors that the application of picosecond or femtosecond pulses allows to perform ablation with very low damaging potential also fitting to the physiological requirements indicated. Beside the short interaction time with the irradiated matter, scanning of the ultra-short pulse trains turned out to be crucial for ablating cavities of the required quality. One main reason for this can be seen in the fact that during scanning the time period between two subsequent pulses incident on the same spot is so much extended that no heat accumulation effects occur and each pulse can be treated as a first one with respect to its local impact.
Extension of this advantageous technique to biocompatible materials, i.c. in this case dental restoration materials and titanium plasma-sprayed implants, is just a matter of consequence. Recently published results on composites fit well with earlier data on dental hard tissue. In case of plaque which has to be removed from implants, it turns out that removal of at least the calcified version is harder than tissue removal. Therefore, besides ultra-short lasers, also Diode and Neodymium lasers, in cw and pulsed modes, have been studied with respect to plaque removal and sterilization. The temperature increase during laser exposure has been experimentally evaluated in parallel.
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