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  • Posted on Tue, May. 24, 2005

    Area dentists see the light

    Laser power put to work

    By DAWN ZERA For the Times Leader


    Does the sound of a dentist�s drill give you the chills?

    Two area dental practices are using a laser to fill cavities, eliminating the need in many cases for the drill and Novocain shots.

    Dr. Charles Carpenter and Dr. Chas Carpenter of Forty Fort, and Dr. John Costello and Dr. Anthony Polit of West Pittston recently purchased a Waterlase. Manufactured by a California-based company, the Waterlase brochure touts it as �pain-free dentistry without the shot, stress or fear.�

    Each Waterlase costs $80,000 to $100,000, according to Carpenter. He said he had hoped to purchase one when the price went down, but the Waterlase has proved so successful that the price has steadily climbed.

    �I�ve been researching and looking at the development of these things since the late �70s,� Carpenter said. �I�ve been chomping at the bit to get one.�

    Costello said there are many benefits to the laser: It�s more precise, produces smaller fillings, reduces post-operative sensitivity, there�s no injection necessary to numb the area, it does not remove as much tooth structure as the drill, and puts less pressure on the tooth, reducing tooth fractures.

    Costello noted that a conventional dentist�s drill produces heat, and that�s what patients feel as pain.

    He said the feeling of the laser is cold, like ice cream or taking a cold drink.

    The sound of the laser, according to Carpenter, �is like popcorn popping.�

    The imagery of popcorn works great with kids, he said. In fact, Carpenter said his younger patients seem to like the laser better than adults.

    Costello and Polit said the laser allows them to build a new kind of trust with adults.

    �Why are adults afraid to come to the dentist?� Polit said. �Guaranteed, it�s because they had a bad experience when they were kids.�

    Hazleton resident Elizabeth Kapish took her 5-year-old son, Kyle, to Polit after hearing an advertisement for their laser on the radio. Kyle had four cavities and needed a root canal. He was sedated through the procedure, and the laser made his experience more pleasant than if a drill had been involved.

    �Kyle was excited about it,� Kapish said. �He said he�d love to come back and said it was �sweet.��

    Laser treatment could add up to $35 to a patient�s bill. In some cases, such as especially deep cavities, conventional dentistry is necessary.


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