An interesting article titled “Is Low-Level Laser Therapy Effective in the Management of Pain and Swelling After Mandibular Third Molar Surgery?” appears in the July, 2016, issue of Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery and written by Majid Eshghpour, Farzaneh Ahrari, and Mohammad Takallu. The article seeks to explore if using low-level laser therapy after removing impacted wisdom teeth can reduce pain and swelling. In the study 40 patients included had lower impacted wisdom teeth on both sides. One side was subjected to lower level laser therapy and the other side just placebo.
After removing wisdom teeth patients often experience pain, swelling, and tristmus for several days. Pain usually reaches a peak 3 to 5 hours after surgery while swelling peaks around 12 to 48 hours later. The trauma that occurs during surgery leads to inflammation which causes these other symptoms. Surgeons typically prescribe medications to help alleviate these concerns but these have side effects. Treatments like low level laser therapy are believed to be without side effects.
The study took place in Iran and to be included the patients had to have lower wisdom teeth on each side similar in position and inclination. Patients with certain diseases were excluded from the study.
It was found that the pain level was significantly lower in the laser side than in the placebo side at all time points during the experiment. Swelling was significantly lower in the laser side than in the placebo group on days 2, 4, and 7 after surgery.
The analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects of low level laser treatment have been explained through various mechanisms. Low level laser treatment stimulates the synthesis of endogenous endorphins, increases pain threshold, and blocks neuronal conduction. The antiinflammatory effect of low level laser treatment has been found to increase the number and diameter of lymph vessels, decrease the permeability of blood vessels, and have inhibitory effects on inflammatory mediators, including interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor-a.
As such the authors suggest that low level laser treatment is a safe and noninvasive procedure that can be done after patients undergo wisdom teeth removal to reduce side effects after surgery.