It is often necessary to replace pit and fissure sealants and composite restorations. This task is complicated by the necessity for complete removal of the remaining composite to enable suitable adhesion of new composite. Previous studies have shown that 355-nm laser pulses from a frequency-tripled Nd:YAG laser can selectively remove residual composite after orthodontic bracket removal on enamel surfaces. Our objective is to determine if such laser pulses are suitable for selective removal of composite pit and fissure sealants and restorations. Optical coherence tomography is used to acquire optical cross sections of the occlusal topography nondestructively before sealant application, after sealant application, and after sealant removal. Thermocouples are used to monitor the temperature in the pulp chamber during composite removal under clinically relevant ablation rates, i.e., 30 Hz and 30 mJ/pulse. At an irradiation intensity of 1.3 J/cm2, pit and fissure sealants are completely removed without visible damage to the underlying enamel. At intensities above 1.5 J/cm2, incident laser pulses remove the resin layer while at the same time preferentially etching the surface of the enamel. Temperature excursions in the pulp chamber of extracted teeth are limited to less than 5C if air-cooling is used during the rapid removal (1 to 2 min) of sealants, water-cooling is not necessary. Selective removal of composite restorative materials is possible without damage to the underlying sound tooth structure.
- Frequency-tripled Nd:YAG laser
- Pit and fissure sealants
- Selective composite removal