Lasers in Dentistry: Be Sure to Stay in Compliance

Molly PereiraFeatured News

From the Winter 2016 Journal of the Colorado Dental Association

During last year’s 2014 state legislative session, the Colorado Dental Practice Act was reviewed and updated pursuant to HB 14-1227, the dental sunset review bill. Substantial changes were made to the Dental Practice Act that will impact dental practices in the months and years to come. One of the key changes in this bill was the addition of new requirements to govern the use of lasers by dental practices.

Through the fall of 2014, the Colorado Dental Board met to develop the rules related to the use of lasers in dentistry, among other sunset review topics. Rules were adopted in January 2015 and took effect on March 30, 2015.
Dentists should be aware of the following highlights from the new laser rule:
• Only dentists can use lasers capable of hard or soft tissue removal.
• Dental hygienists may use lasers for pocket disinfection (at settings that preclude hard and soft tissue removal; incidental gingival curettage is permitted) under the direct or indirect supervision of a dentist.
• Before using a laser for the first time, a licensee must complete training that addresses laser physics, safety and appropriate use. Training must be provided by an approved organization (approved organizations for laser training are identical to the list of approved CE providers). Keep documentation of training received on file. It may be requested by the Colorado Dental Board.
• Lasers must be used in accordance with accepted safety guidelines.
Note: This is a general summary of some highlights from Colorado’s laser rule as applicable to most dental practices. It is not a comprehensive list of all requirements and exceptions. Please review the rule directly to ensure compliance with all requirements, as applicable to your practice.

Below is a complete copy of the Colorado Dental Board Laser Rule 
Rule XXIV. Use of Lasers
A. The requirements in this rule do not apply to use of non-adjustable laser units for purposes of diagnosis and curing.
B. Only a dentist may employ a laser capable of the removal of hard and/or soft tissue in the treatment of a dental patient.
C. Laser use by a dental hygienist can only be performed under the indirect or direct supervision of a dentist, and must be limited to pocket disinfection at settings that preclude hard and soft tissue removal, except for incidental gingival curettage.
D. Effective June 30, 2015, a licensee who is a first time laser user must first successfully complete training that covers at a minimum laser physics, safety, and appropriate use prior to utilizing the laser.
1. Training must be obtained through a course provided or recognized by any of the following organizations (or a successor organization):
a. A Commission on Dental Accreditation (CODA) accredited institution;
b. The American Dental Association (ADA) Continuing Education Recognition Program (CERP);
c. The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) Program Approval for Continuing Education (PACE); or
d. The American Medical Association (AMA).
2. A licensee utilizing a laser, other than what is described in section A of this rule, must maintain evidence of training as required in subparagraph D.1 of this rule. Upon request of the Board, the licensee must submit evidence of such training or submit proof of laser use prior to June 30, 2015, if applicable.
E. All lasers must be used in accordance with accepted safety guidelines.