Here at Subcon Laser we make our living by using amazing laser technology to create fantastic parts and products for our various clients, which span various sectors and walks of life. However, we’re not just interested in lasers from a professional point of view – we like to find out what’s happening in the wider world of laser technology whenever we can, whether it directly influences our work or not!
We’re always on the lookout for news stories regarding laser technology of any sort, and occasionally something pops up that blows our minds! As you may be able to guess, this has happened very recently, and without further ado, here is what we’ve read about…
Lasers may be used to regrow teeth in years to come!
It has recently been revealed that lasers actually have the ability to regrow full teeth. Yes, you did read that rightly – lasers could be used to regrow teeth in the coming years. We find this absolutely amazing, and thought that it was something that we should quickly share with you in case you weren’t already aware. Taking care of our teeth is something that concerns each and every one of us, and a great many of us dread our trips to the dentist, no matter how rare they are! It sounds, though, like in a few years, our dental worries will be dramatically reduced, as we could have access to treatment which actually makes our teeth regrow!
It turns out that researchers at Boston’s world-famous Harvard University have claimed that they have discovered a new and exciting way to regrow parts of teeth using lasers. If you’re struggling to get your head around this, don’t worry – you’re not alone. We’re still rather gobsmacked ourselves, but we are very excited as it just shows how ingenious and invaluable laser technology is in a variety of ways.
As you will be aware if you’re on this website and reading this blog, we’re thought leaders and industry specialists when it comes to laser cutting, and we continuously look for ways in which we can improve our services. Not that we needed any encouragement to be passionate about the capabilities of lasers, but this recent discovery by the brainboxes over at Harvard has really reinforced our passion.
How have they actually found out that lasers can regrow teeth? This is a question you’re undoubtedly wondering by now – we were the same when we first read about it. According to a study in the recently published journal, Science Translational Medicine, a team of researchers, led by a Praveen Arany, carried out laser light therapy tests on the rat species, in an attempt to prompt the regrowth of lost dentin (which is of course the tissue which makes up teeth). Needless to say, the therapy proved successful and they are now rather convinced that it could work on human teeth too. Let’s hope so!
Just think – this must mean that, if the technology is developed properly and the capability is in fact there, false teeth could be a thing of the past! Not only that, but we could thereby no longer need to endure having fillings and root canals at the dentist, and instead just have the tooth regrown where it has decayed. This last point is surely something we would all like to see come into place – fillings have got to be one of the most inconvenient things about the dentist. We dread every check-up because we fear we might need a root canal. Also, with regards to fillings – they don’t look all too attractive, do they? They can be very large and very noticeable – a big grey spot on your teeth which screams “I consume too much sugar” is not a good look.
Sure, you can get fillings which are the same colour as your tooth, but these can be quite expensive and are equally painful to have fitted. If the laser technology that can regrow teeth is sufficiently developed and advanced in the coming years, all of this could become a worry of the past. The same goes for root canals.
Of course, there is still a lot of development to be done on this, as it will obviously be an extremely exact and sensitive procedure. There is a protein called TGF-beta (which stands for ‘transforming growth factor beta’), which when hit with a focused beam of light, becomes highly stimulated. It is said that once the laser does stimulate the TGF-beta, the stem cells in the dentin tissue are binded, which then allows it to regrow.
As you would imagine, a lot of the development process will be figuring out how to control the power of the laser beam and how it is applied. Too little could prove ineffective, whilst too much could prove destructive in extreme cases.
When they tested on the aforementioned group of rats, the Harvard researchers found that around a dozen or so weeks later, new dentin had formed where they had shone the laser to test its ability to stimulate the regrowth of dentin.
So, if lasers could be used in the not too distant future to regrow teeth, what else could they be used for within the health industry?
The treatment of cancer
Lasers are widely used in the treatment of various forms of cancer. Due to the fact that a laser is essentially an extremely thin and focused beam of light, it can be very effective. What happens when a laser comes into contact with cancerous tissue is that it heats it, as you would expect, and can burn away the bad cells.
This process is referred to as laser ablation (ablation is a word which means ‘the surgical removal of body tissue’, in case you were wondering – which makes a lot of sense). The laser beam can be focused extremely accurately on very small areas, and for this reason it can be used to burn away cancerous cells without causing damage to other surrounding tissue. It really is truly remarkable, and of course is another demonstration of just how incredible laser technology can be.
The types of cancer that laser surgery can treat are numerous – especially in the early stages of the disease. These include: melanoma (of the eye), penile cancer, cervical cancer, vulval cancer and vaginal cancer. Sometimes non small cell lung cancer can be treated in its early stages using lasers. In addition to this, lasers can be used to treat some forms of cancer in their later stages – such as the windpipe and the food pipe.
Basal cell skin cancer is a form of the disease which is found on the surface of the body, and so in this instance the laser treatment is accompanied by a drug which is sensitive to light (this is referred to as ‘photodynamic’ therapy).
Lasers can be used instead of scalpels during surgery now, as their capabilities have been recognised by surgeons. They have realised that they can cut body tissue extremely accurately, and not only that but when you cut with a laser, it seals off the blood vessels during the process, which means that there is minimal bleeding as a result.
Testing cholesterol levels
The Science and Technologies Facilities Council, who have numerous research sites all across the United Kingdom, have, in their Cheshire laboratories developed laser technology which can be used to test cholesterol levels. It is said to be a highly accurate method of testing, which provides a much better insight than the other test kits which are on the current market.
The ‘L3’ technology developed by the STFC is said to be able to distinguish between positive and negative forms of cholesterol, and provides a much more detailed portrait of how someone’s cholesterol levels are bound to impact their future health (both short term and long term).
The L3 technology works by using a fluorescent marker which tags compounds, and the level of the fluorescence is then used to ascertain both how much cholesterol is present, and also what type of cholesterol it actually is.
The STFC hope that these testing methods will eventually be made available to general practitioners across the country, and will thereby provide quick, highly accurate testing which saves money as well.
The detection of eye disease
Lasers are used when trying to ascertain whether or not a person suffers from any form of eye disease – it is scanned back and forth across the patient’s retina, and from there a three dimensional (3D) picture of the retina can be formed. The laser enables high-resolution images to be produced, and is one of the methods eye specialists (otherwise known as optometrists and ophthalmologists) rely on this method for their diagnoses.
The removal of tattoos
Though this is arguably more cosmetic than strictly health-related, we thought we would include it as it is another demonstration of the power of lasers, and how they can help us improve (or repair, as it would be in this scenario) our bodies.
Some tattoos we get are ones which we’re always glad we had done, whilst we look at others and regret them. Some seem like a great idea at the time (especially when you’ve perhaps had a drink or six too many!), but the novelty soon wears off and our tastes change and we don’t like it anymore.
The problem, obviously, lies within the fact that tattoos are supposed to be permanent, and are very hard to remove. Thankfully, laser tattoo removal are capable of this difficult removal, so it is an option which is available to us, allowing us to thereby have our regrettable body art erased if we feel that this measure is necessary.
Tattoos, as many of you may already know, are made up of pigments beneath the lower layers of a person’s skin. When we have a tattoo done, the artist injects ink underneath our skin. This ink is basically large clumps of pigment, and as the body can’t remove them naturally like they would other materials which find their way under our skin (like splinters, for example), it accepts that the tattoo is here to stay and seals it off.
When you have laser tattoo removal, this sealed off fibrous layer is broken down substantially, and the pigment (i.e. the tattoo ink) starts to disperse. This dispersal causes it to break up into smaller pieces, which the body is capable of removing naturally, which is begins to do right away. After a while, the pigment is removed and therefore the tattoo is as well.
Did you find this blog post interesting? We like to keep up to date with all things lasers here at Subcon Laser wherever possible. It’s not just the sorts of lasers we use that we’re interested in – it’s any sort which can be of help to society, whether that’s in a manufacturing context or a health care one.
If you know of any other ways in which lasers are used for the benefit of people’s health, please let us know in the comments section below. We’d love to hear from our readers and welcome any comments – we want to start a discussion and get people talking about lasers!
Here at Subcon Laser, we apply our skills and expertise and manufacture fantastic products for a great many clients. We are equipped with state of the art machinery which allows us to carry out both 2 axis and 5 axis laser cutting, as well as laser engraving jobs wherever necessary. We’re passionate about lasers, not only because they’re what we do, but what they are capable of. If you have any questions about any laser cutting work we may be able to do for you, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us. We’ll be more than happy to give you an overview of our services or provide further insight into a specific one. We hope you have enjoyed this Subcon Laser blog post, and be sure to check regularly as we’ll be updating it again soon!