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Oral Health Research Restorative Dentistry

Is light therapy a complementary antibacterial treatment of oral biofilm?


This summary is based on the article published in Advances in Dental Research: Light Therapy: Complementary Antibacterial Treatment of Oral Biofilm (September 2012)


Conventional antibacterial treatment fails to eradicate biofilms associated with common infections of the oral cavity. Unlike chemical agents, which are less effective than anticipated, owing to diffusion limitations in biofilms, light is more effective on bacteria in biofilm than in suspension. Effectiveness depends also on the type and parameters of the light. 

Purpose of the Article

To present a rational selection of the specific types of light to be used. The article presents recent studies and novel work on the effects of two different types of light sources with different mechanisms of action: non-coherent blue light (wavelengths, 400-500 nm) and CO2 laser (wavelength, 10.6 μm), on S. mutans biofilm and on enamel covered by biofilm. The article focuses on the potential of such irradiation to serve as a complementary antibacterial treatment for oral biofilms associated with caries disease.

Key Messages

  • CO2 laser and non-coherent blue light irradiation on dental biofilm is suggested under certain conditions as a potential novel preventive light therapy against biofilms on dental hard tissues for controlling dental caries. More specifically, blue light appears to be effective and safe, whereas CO2 bears the potential for obvious damage to the tooth surface. With further research and specification-of-use guidelines, the CO2 laser may be safe and effective, too.
  • Light therapy could be used in minimally invasive dentistry as a complementary tool to the current mechanical regime of drilling away the infected enamel and dentin.
  • The potential implications of light therapy on oral biofilms should be further studied, particularly the long-term effects of such light on the biofilm structure, virulence, and permeability to antimicrobial and remineralization products.


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