Analysis of peripheral thermal damage after laser irradiation of dentin using polarized light microscopy and synchrotron radiation infrared spectromicroscopy

Alfredo Dela Rosa, Anupama V. Sarma, Charles Q. Le, Robert S. Jones, Daniel Fried

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


It is necessary to minimize peripheral thermal damage during laser irradiation, since thermal damage to collagen and mineral compromises the bond strength to restorative materials in dentin and inhibits healing and osteointegration in bone. The overall objective of this study was to test the hypothesis that lasers resonant to the specific absorption of water, collagen, and hydroxyapatite with pulse durations less than the thermal relaxation times at each respective laser wavelength will efficiently remove dentin with minimal peripheral thermal damage. Precise incisions were produced in 3 × 3 mm 2 blocks of human dentin using CO 2 (9.6 μm), Er:YSGG (2.79 μm), and Nd:YAG (355 nm) lasers with and without a computer controlled water spray. Polarization-sensitive optical coherence tomography was used to obtain optical cross-sections of each incision to determine the rate and efficiency of ablation. The peripheral thermal damage zone around each incision was analyzed using polarized light microscopy (PLM) and Synchrotron-Radiation Fourier Transform Infrared Spectro-microscopy (SR-FTIR). Thermally induced chemical changes to both mineral and the collagen matrix was observed with SR-FTIR with a 10-μm spatial resolution and those changes were correlated with optical changes observed with PLM. Minimal (<10-μm) thermal damage was observed for pulse durations less than the thermal relaxation time (T r) of the deposited laser energy, with and without applied water at 9.6 um and only with applied water at 2.79 μm. For pulse durations greater than T r, significantly greater peripheral thermal damage was observed for both IR laser wavelengths with and without the water spray. There was minimal thermal damage for 355-nm laser pulses, however extensive mechanical damage (cracks) was observed. High resolution SR-FTIR is well suited for characterization of the chemical changes that occur due to thermal damage peripheral to laser incisions in proteinaceous hard tissues. Sub-microsecond pulsed IR lasers resonant with water and mineral absorption bands ablate dentin efficiently with minimal thermal damage. Similar laser parameters are expected to apply to the ablation of alveolar bone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-40
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering
StatePublished - Oct 27 2004
EventProgress in Biomedical Optics and Imaging - Lasers in Dentistry X - San Jose, CA, United States
Duration: Jan 25 2004Jan 25 2004


  • CO laser
  • Dentin
  • Er:YSGG laser
  • Hard tissue ablation
  • Laser dentistry
  • Water-spray


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