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Intraoral laser surgery

      The intraoral use of lasers in oral and maxillofacial surgery has evolved over the last 4 decades as clinical experience along with scientific investigation has increased the body of knowledge. Although the first laser was introduced in 1960 by Theodore Maiman [
      • Maiman T.H
      Stimulated optic radiation in ruby.
      ], it was not until 1964, when Patel [
      • Patel C.K.N
      • Tien P.K
      • McFee J.H
      CW high power CO2-N2-H3 laser.
      ] developed the first continuous-wave carbon-dioxide (CO2) device, that the laser became a viable intraoral surgical tool. Before the adaptation of CO2 as a lasing medium, the surgical application of lasers was limited due to their lack of absorption by biologic tissues. With an infrared wavelength of 10,600 nm, the CO2 laser is highly absorbed by water and, therefore, is highly useful for soft tissue surgery. In 1970, Polanyi [
      • Polanyi T.G
      • Bredemeier H
      • Davis T
      A CO2 laser for surgical research.
      ] was the first to incise living tissue with a CO2 laser and subsequently developed handheld instrumentation in the form of a handpiece delivery system that enhanced the ability to use the laser on biologic tissues. Concurrent with the development of the CO2 laser was the research of Johnson [
      • Johnson L.F
      Optical laser characteristics of rare-earth ions in crystal.
      ] on the Nd:YAG laser, which also found intraoral surgical applications. A wide array of subsequent lasing media with unique radiant-energy wavelengths has been employed successfully for varying indications and types of tissue, including the argon, pulsed dye, copper vapor, holmium:YAG, erbium:YAG, and potassium titanyl phosphate lasers. This article primarily discusses the intraoral use of the CO2 laser; specific intraoral applications of other lasers also are described.
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