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01 May 2009 | Australasian Dental Practice

news > Spectrum > Page 42

New handpiece for Waterlase cuts through enamel like butter

Biolase Technology has brought its flagship Waterlase MD ErCr:YSGG dental laser a step closer to replacing the "high speed" with the launch of its Turbo handpiece. The new Waterlase MD Turbo addresses key issues that have so far inhibited the adoption of lasers for hard tissue cutting in mainstream dentistry, the principal of these being speed.


"One of the big issues with all fibre tip delivery systems in dental lasers is attenuation of the energy through the inherent inefficiencies of this method of delivery," said Dr Graeme Milicich, a private practitioner in Hamilton, New Zealand and well known advocate of lasers and minimal intervention dentistry. "Because of this, a lot of beginners struggle with ablation rates because until you know what you're doing with a laser, it can cut slowly through enamel. In practical terms, slowly means slower than a high speed handpiece.

"With the Turbo handpiece, Biolase has directly addressed this issue by making more of the laser energy available to cut and this has resulted in at least a 3-fold increase in cutting speed. They have achieved this by replacing the contact fibre tip with a lens that focuses the laser for greater efficiency in the delivery of the energy. Having been an avid user of lasers for some time, I was amazed at how well the Turbo cuts. It just roars through enamel. It cuts as fast as a drill without all the stresses a drill causes."

The Waterlase MD Turbo is a significant breakthrough in dental laser optical technology. The contra-angle handpiece features a computer designed optical tip that replaces the traditional handpiece and its fibre tip. The optical tip is capable of focusing the laser beam to a 500- or 700-micron diameter spot size, depending on which of two available Waterlase MD Turbo tips is used (MX5 - 500 microns, or MX7 - 700 microns). The beam maintains this spot diameter for a distance of approximately 1-3mm at a distance of about 3-5mm from the tip, providing maximum cutting efficiency across that distance for fast and effective Class I-V cavity preparations.

According to dentists testing the product including Dr Milicich, cavity preparations such as Class II MO, DO and MOD can now be completed as quickly as with the high-speed drill.

A further benefit of optimizing the usage of the laser energy to increase cutting efficiency is that more of the energy of each laser pulse goes into ablation with less residual heat energy to cause pain. So by cutting at the same power, you actually get less pain than before and yet you are cutting three times faster.

"As well as cutting faster, you also need to modify your technique with the Waterlase MD Turbo. For starters, you don't have a near contact tip anymore; instead there is an aiming beam. It cuts at the red dot, so you simply ensure that the dot is on the surface you want to cut. You actually hold the handpiece 3-5mm off the tooth for maximum cutting efficiency.

"In addition, the technique of lasing on the sides of enamel prisms for maximum cutting efficiency no longer applies. The turbo cuts straight onto the occusal surface as fast as a high-speed. You just cut what you want at any angle and it doesn't matter. It's now more like using a standard fissure bur to cut a cavity."

The new Turbo handpiece will fit on any Waterlase MD unit once a software upgrade has been installed.

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