Nowadays the world is going through a health emergency period, a pandemic caused by COVID-19 disease spread.
Since a proper therapy or vaccine does not exist yet, the World Health Organization (WHO) is focused on limiting the spread of the virus.
According to WHO, COVID-19 is transmitted amongst people through respiratory droplets.
Since the virus can remain in the air and on surfaces from several hours to several days, suggested guidelines have been announced, such as: observing individual hygiene; avoiding contact – social distancing; use of negative pressure ventilation in hospital sectors; wearing a face mask for protection; disinfection of frequently touched surfaces; and to reduce COVID-19 spreading through aerosol [i].
The guidelines for dental clinics are still unclear and are evolving, but one consideration is already clear – reducing the risk of virus and bacteria transmission between patients and staff and patient-to-patient.
According to a research article published in POLS one in May 2017 [ii] the sources of aerosol in dental clinics are: ultrasonic scalers, high speed handpieces, air turbines, three in one syringe and air water syringes.
The Er:YAG Laser was not included among the sources of aerosol in a dental clinic.
Most dental treatments are performed using the high and low speed handpieces, creating aerosol that can diffuse bacteria and virus through droplets.
LiteTouch™ utilizes between 1-8 levels of air and water in which the air pressure is as low as 8.5 psi and the water spray as low as 4 ml/min.
However, the LiteTouch™ has an additional advantage. With the newest LiteTouch™ feature, both air and water spray can be completely turned off, which enables dentists to choose between 4 options – working without air and water spray, working with air only (no water spray), working with water only (no air spray) or working with both water/air spray between the 8 levels possible with the LiteTouch™.
The risks caused by aerosol, transmission of bacteria and viruses (including COVID-19), are significantly lower when using LiteTouch™ Er:YAG Laser compared to the rotary tools like the drill.
Hard tissue treatments – for cutting or eliminating enamel, dentin, decays or bone, it is better and safer to use the LiteTouch™ Er:YAG Laser instead of using rotary tools like the high speed and low sped drills or electric drill. Dentist can perform some of these treatments using the LiteTouch™ Laser with only the cooling water system and without air-spray, reducing the risk of aerosol contamination.
Soft tissue treatments – the LiteTouch™ can be used without any spray air/water at all, eliminating the risk of aerosol contamination.
When using LiteTouch™ Gentle Treatment mode, the sub ablative energy, it is possible to operate without any spray air/water or with just a low amount of water, avoiding the creation of aerosol.
The mechanical, in-contact mode of drill cutting, cause a spread of debris of the dental tissue also outside the oral cavity (fragments and debris as a result of the mechanical rotation action of the burr). These debris and other dental fragments can include potentially harmful bacteria and viruses [vi] [vii].
Instead, the electromagnetic energy of the LiteTouch™ Er:YAG Laser, ablates small surfaces of dental tissue in a non-contact mode. It does not produce scratch material, thus causing less spread of debris outside the oral cavity [viii] [ix] [x].
Disinfection of the ablated tissues and remaining dental tissues after ablation with the LiteTouch™ Er:YAG Laser, guarantee microorganism free procedures and can avoid the spread of harmful contagions [xi] [xii]. The drill of course, does not have any antimicrobial capacity.
The LiteTouch™ Er:YAG Laser provides significant advantages for hard and soft tissue procedures compared to the conventional tools.
In a COVID-19 emergency environment the LiteTouch™ Laser, compared to the drill, significantly reduces aerosols and splash, through less water flow and air pressure. The LiteTouch™ Laser disinfects and does not spread scratch material from the oral cavity to the environment.
The LiteTouch™ Er:YAG Laser should be considered as a safer option than the drill for dentists and their patients.