Caries inhibition in vital teeth using 9.6-μm CO2-laser irradiation

Peter Rechmann, Daniel Fried, Charles Q. Le,a Gerald Nelson, Marcia Rapozo-Hilo,a Beate M. T. Rechmann, and John D. B. Featherstonea

Journal of Biomedical Optics 16(7), 071405 (July 2011)

Abstract. The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that in a short-term clinical pilot trial short-pulsed 9.6 μm CO2-laser irradiation significantly inhibits demineralization in vivo. Twenty-four subjects scheduled for extraction of bicuspids for orthodontic reasons (age 14.9 ± 2.2 years) were recruited. Orthodontic brackets were placed on bicuspids (Transbond XT, 3M). An area next to the bracket was irradiated with a CO2-laser (Pulse System Inc, Los Alamos, New Mexico), wavelength 9.6 μm, pulse duration 20 μs, pulse repetition rate 20 Hz, beam diameter 1100 μm, average fluence 4.1 ± 0.3J/cm2, 20 laser pulses per spot. An adjacent nonirradiated area served as control. Bicuspids were extracted after four and twelve weeks, respectively, for a quantitative assessment of demineralization by cross-sectional microhardness testing. For the 4-week arm the mean relative mineral loss Z (vol%× μm) for the laser treated enamel was 402 ± 85 (mean ± SE), while the control showed significantly higher mineral loss (Z 738 ± 131; P = 0.04, t-test). The difference was even larger after twelve weeks (laser arm Z 135 ± 98; control 1067 ± 254; P = 0.002). The laser treatment produced 46% demineralization inhibition for the 4-week and a marked 87% inhibition for the 12-week arm. This study shows, for the first time in vivo, that the short-pulsed 9.6 μm CO2-laser irradiation successfully inhibits demineralization of tooth enamel in humans.