Photobiomodulation: A Replacement for Conventional Drug TherapyMar 31, 2021 09:31AM ● By Amparo David
Photobiomodulation is a therapy that uses non-ionizing light energy to stimulate healing on a cellular level. This light therapy proves to be useful in health care as it speeds up the healing process of various injuries that do not respond well to other forms of medicine.
Patients that come to their dental visit will often complain of discomfort in the head, neck and jaw area. This discomfort is usually a result of bruxism or grinding the teeth. Bruxism is one of the most common conditions that is connected to temporomandibular disorders, or TMD. Many people suffer from TMD and often learn to deal with the discomfort that the condition brings. This includes inflamed muscles and tendons because of high levels of tension brought upon them from the continuous teeth grinding. Scientific research has brought about multiple advancements in treating inflammation like this, and one growing more popular with time is photobiomodulation.
In addition to reducing inflammation, photobiomodulation provides other beneficial effects. This includes cell regeneration, increased vascularity and increased metabolic activity. This therapy stimulates cells that are working to heal the area by improving their existing biological mechanisms. In other words, cells start to malfunction in the presence of an inflammatory response due to injury. When low level light energy is introduced to the inflamed area, it exposes the damaged cells to photobiomodulation. This drastically improves the healing function of the cells by enhancing their ability to obtain nutrients and regenerate new cells. With proliferation of new cells, new capillaries can be formed faster, which helps bring vascularity to a damaged area. By increasing vascularity, blood cells can transport oxygen to the associated damaged area and further increase the efficacy of the healing process.
Another favorable outcome that photobiomodulation brings is increased nerve function, increased analgesia and reduction in the formation of scar tissue. When a recovery period takes too long, severed nerves may not be able to reconnect and heal properly. By using photobiomodulation, it is more likely that nerves will reconnect and improve the healing of injured muscles. Photobiomodulation also decreases nerve sensitivity by blocking action potentials that transport pain signals. It also stimulates release of pain killing chemicals such as endorphins. By being able to signal pain relief without the use of a drug, photobiomodulation is the perfect therapy to treat people that cannot or prefer not to utilize drug therapy in the first place.
Light therapy is a favored form of treatment when managing inflammation as it does not entail ingesting drugs that can be harmful to the body. With this being said, photobiomodulation is by far a more natural, holistic form of treatment as opposed to taking high doses of over-the-counter anti-inflammatories. Instead of rushing to the medicine cabinet to take multiple NSAIDs in an effort to manage pain, laser therapy can be utilized to improve the healing process without exposing the body to harsh chemicals within oral medication. The same goes for those that do not want to go through treatment that involves injection of drugs into an injured area. By using light therapy, photobiomodulation can heal conditions without putting the body through another trauma and without concern of having a bad interaction with a drug.
Although TMD can be the more common condition to treat with photobiomodulation, especially in the dental setting, it does not stop there. Patients with many forms of inflammation-causing conditions in various parts of the body can benefit from light therapy. This includes arthritis, tendonitis, post-operative sites and trauma lesions. If there is any area that is in its healing stages, light therapy can help improve the rate and process of healing without having to worry about any negative complications with treatment. With time, photobiomodulation will hopefully become more of a gold standard treatment to those that suffer from acute or chronic inflammation instead of contributing to an immense dependency of prescription drugs.
Dr. Amparo M. David, DMD, has her own practice, Dentistry by Dr. David, located at 563 Main St., Bolton, where she practices general and cosmetic dentistry and orthodontics, as well as assisting patients with sleep apnea. For more information, call 978-779-2888 or visit BoltonDental.com.