Can you aerosolize a virus when using a laser for a cold sore or Papilloma mouth lesion procedure? This debate has recently appeared twice on Dentaltown and the opinions vary. Some dentsits hold strong to the efficiency of using a diode laser while other express concern for the potential threat. This begs the question, should lasers be used to remove mouth lesions?
Aerosolizing a Virus
Back in 1988, a study was done to determine the effectiveness of laser removal for warts. The study concluded that the largest area of concern was from the plume of smoke emitted during the procedure. The research was continued on animals with the carbon dioxide laser and it showed that the smoke plume from the procedures regularly contained intact virus DNA. Although there is no conclusive evidence done specifically for the diode laser, it’s safe to assume that breathing the smoke plume in any skin procedure should be avoided. But does that fact outweigh the benefits of using a laser in these types of procedures in the first place?
Why use a laser
The biggest benefit is the relief a patient can feel and the effectiveness of the procedure overall. Healing times are shortened, relief is more immediate, and the root of the lesion is more directly attacked. Whether this is a virus-based lesion like a cold sore or an auto-immune condition like canker sores, the laser is able to get where creams and scalpels cannot. In a study specifically done for laser treatments on canker sours, it was reported that 75 percent of the patients experienced pain release during the session and only 4 days for complete legion regression.
Depending on the laser and the legion, specific settings may vary. If the diode laser doesn’t have a preset, typically this is a non-contact procedure so the tip will not be initiated. No matter the lesion, it is always important to wear the protective gear. Pioneer Lasers specifically suggestions using a high volume vacuum system used through the procedure to manage the plume cloud. Protective glasses and filtration masks of .1 microns or less should always be used to protect against particles.
While there is the possibility to become exposed to the papillomavirus, the likelihood of contracting it is extremely slim if the dentist and hygienist are following the proper procedure. The benefits of an effective procedure and better recovery for patients is too great to turn aside and offer procedures of the past. Get laser trained, follow the procedure, and start bettering lives.
Dentaltown conversations cold sore treatment and sublingual fibroma removal