Tooth mineral is a structurally deficient carbonated apatite (calcium phosphate) that is much more reactive than hydroxyapatite or fluorapatite1,2 Direct heat treatment and heating as a result of irradiation by carbon dioxide (CO2) laser light reduces the carbonate content and improves the crystal structure3-6. Early studies by Stem and co-workers7,8 demonstrated the possibility of treating dental enamel with laser irradiation and making it resistant to acid dissolution. Initial studies in our laboratories9 using in vitro chemical artificial caries (dental decay) models showed that pietreatment of tooth enamel by carbon dioxide laser irradiation at wavelengths of 9.3, 9.6, 10.3, and 10.6 µm inhibited subsurface dissolution in the range of 10-50 %. These experiments used a CO2 laser with 200 ns pulse width and required 400 pulses over 10 minutes to produce the reported dissolution inhibition, with a maximum of 50 % achieved by treatment with the 9.3 µm wavelength.
© 1998 Optical Society of AmericaPDF Article
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