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Water laser kills pain

Many people are hesitant to go to the dentist because of the searing pain that may result from being needled in the gums.

One Oak Harbor dentist, however, now has a tool that allows him to perform a plethora of work on his patients without causing all that pain.

Sam Johnson has been using a new high-tech gadget called a water laser to help fix people’s teeth. The laser allows him to numb the area and work on a tooth at the same time.

“There’s no pain,” Johnson said as he was putting some fillings in a patient’s teeth. He said the energy from the laser goes into the mitochondria of the cells and stops the chemicals involved with nerves. That makes it easier than using a shot of Novacaine to numb the mouth.

“The neat thing about it is you get a perfect surface for bonding,” Johnson said as he carefully placed a tooth-colored filling.

The water is needed to help absorb the heat generated by the laser and it numbs a tooth for a period of between two and eight minutes.

It’s not a constant beam, however, and it makes a popping sound when in use.

“It’s not a steady stream. It’s like little darts of energy,” Johnson said.

His patient, Oak Harbor resident Michelle Waterman, said she felt fine through the procedure. She spent approximately 45 minutes at the dentist office that morning.

Johnson said the laser is really convenient, especially when children are involved, and that his patients aren’t numb or sore after the treatment.

Johnson has been working out of his office on Bayshore Avenue in Oak Harbor for the past 10 years. Before that, he was a comprehensive dentist in the Navy.

To his knowledge, he is the only dentist in the area using the machine. He said it is an expensive piece of equipment that can cost $65,000 if purchased outright. However, he is able to lease his machine.

He’s had the equipment for two years and took time to make sure he could properly use it.

“The key is getting a handle on it,” Johnson said.

He uses the water laser for more than fillings now. He’s used the laser to help with crowns and implants. He said he has a 95 percent success rate with implants and an 85 percent success rate for fillings with the water laser. While the machine works well with tooth-colored fillings he can’t use it for the more traditional silver fillings.

Because of the painless laser, Johnson said people have fallen asleep while he’s working on the teeth.

The equipment also allows him to work faster. He’s seen people come in where their teeth has been littered with cavities and he can fill them in an afternoon.

For more information about the water laser and work that can be done with it, call 679-2502.

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