Low level light/laser therapy (LLLT) is the direct application of light to stimulate cell responses (photobiomodulation) in order to promote tissue healing, reduce inflammation and induce analgesia. There have been significant studies demonstrating its application and efficacy at many sites within the body and for treatment of a range of musculoskeletal injuries, degenerative diseases and dysfunction, however, its use on oral tissues has, to date, been limited. The purpose of this review is to consider the potential for LLLT in dental and oral applications by providing background information on its mechanism of action and delivery parameters and by drawing parallels with its treatment use in analogous cells and tissues from other sites of the body.
A literature search on Medline was performed on laser and light treatments in a range of dental/orofacial applications from 2010 to March 2013. The search results were filtered for LLLT relevance. The clinical papers were then arranged to eight broad dental/orofacial categories and reviewed.
Results. The initial search returned 2778 results, when filtered this was reduced to 153. 41 were review papers or editorials, 65 clinical and 47 laboratory studies. Of all the publications, 130 reported a positive effect in terms of pain relief, fast healing or other improvement in symptoms or appearance and 23 reported inconclusive or negative outcomes. Direct application of light as a therapeutic intervention within the oral cavity (rather than photodynamic therapies, which utilize photosensitizing solutions) has thus far received minimal attention. Data from the limited studies that have been performed which relate to the oral cavity indicate that LLLT may be a reliable, safe and novel approach to treating a range of oral and dental disorders and in particular for those which there is an unmet clinical need.