KALISPELL, Mont. - One Kalispell dentist is the first in Montana to use a special kind of laser in her office.
The laser vaporizes tissue instead of chipping it away. It's the first FDA-approved laser of its kind -- a carbon dioxide laser for hard and soft tissue -- that means for the gums and teeth.
Officials said other dental lasers on the market only work for one or the other.
"Patients have been extremely excited about it," said Dr. Carol Scranton, who uses the new laser in her practice. "We can go ahead and make the patient experience so much more comfortable for them."
The laser, called Solea, runs on Wi-Fi. The manufacturer said it's the only one on the market that lets dentists customize the size of the beam.
"We can go ahead and do procedures with no anesthetic, for the most part," said Scranton. "And make it faster for (patients) so they don't have to take as much time off from work or school. Patients are really liking it a lot."
Staff members said lasers can speed up common procedures like fillings. Just ask Ken Welch. His filling only took 15 minutes.
"I felt absolutely nothing during this procedure," said Welch. "In the past they would have had to have Novocained me up and all that. It's pretty incredible."
The laser is a green beam. It works along with water vapor. Operators use a series of mirrors to help line it up.
Experts at the Academy of Laser Dentistry said only 20 to 25 percent of dentists use lasers, although the number is going up each year.
Officials said lasers tend to cost about $40,000, minimum. Drills only cost around $600.
Clinicians claim the idea is simple -- lasers speed up procedures, which lets them see more patients.
In the Flathead, there are a number of lasers in the offices of dentists in Kalispell and Whitefish.
For any dental laser, training is required. That way dentists know how to operate the technology.