The International Society of Oral Laser Applications (SOLA), an international organization that coordinates research in- and fosters the use oflasers in dentistry through education and greater awareness, will stage its biannual congress in Sydney on May 21-24, 2009.
Founded in Europe in 1999 as the European Society of Oral Laser Applications (ESOLA), the group now has a global reach as interest in the use of lasers in dentistry has grown.
Dr Franziska Beer, a Maxillofacial Surgeon and Secretary General of SOLA, recently visited Sydney to finalize arrangements for the conference and also to appoint Professor Laurence Walsh, Head of the University of Queensland Dental School and Australasian Dental Practice's technical editor, as joint Congress President. Professor Walsh shares this honour with Professor Andreas Moritz, the President of SOLA, from the Department of Conservative Dentistry, University of Vienna Dental School.
"We are excited to be bringing the SOLA Congress to Australia in 2009," Dr Beer said. "Dentists in Australia have increasingly embraced the use of lasers in dentistry for the past several years and actively contribute to the international community in both research and education. Our Congress is always well attended and Sydney is the perfect venue for this international event."
Dr Beer said that throughout the developed world, typically 5% of dentists are using a laser and this holds true in Australia as well. The US market, however, has a much higher rate of adoption.
So why use a dental laser? According to Dr Beer, lasers eliminate a lot of the reasons that keep people from going to the dentist such as needles and pain. There are other reasons as well.
"Lasers deliver a sterilised operating area, create less noise than a high speed and are almost pain free thanks to the noncontact preparation; thus the fine nerve ends are not disturbed and patients feel no pain," she said.
"Lasers also deliver much better clinical outcomes in many areas including perio and oral surgery. Laser tooth whitening systems such as the KTP also deliver superior results without damaging the tooth surface or gingivae.
"Surgically, there is a massive reduction in post-operative pain, no haematomas and therefore no swelling and no infections. Wound healing is much faster and suturing is eliminated in most operative procedures. Scaring is reduced and procedures that you would normally perform under general anaesthetic can now be done in the chair."
Dr Beer said that the use of lasers has become mainstream and in many cases, the gold standard in treatment delivery in several areas.
"Many dentists are misinformed about the role lasers have in dentistry and through SOLA, we endeavour to present information on the evidence based application of lasers and how they can improve your quality of care.
"Combining lasers with conventional methods of dental treatment, for instance, delivers very good results. Cases where you think the patient will lose their teeth in a few months can be saved. In perio, combining conventional scaling and root planing with subsequent laser treatment delivers an excellent outcome.
"Lasers are also ideal for cavity preparations as no etching is required for composite restorations. Hence, there is no acid in the tubules.
"Overall, lasers place less stress on the patient which translates to less stress on you."
Apart from its annual congress, SOLA offers formal education in the use of lasers through its Academy that offers a modular approach comprising theory followed by in vivo and in vitro programs through the University of Vienna. This has proved popular in Europe with beginning laser dentists.