Erbium, chromium: yttrium, scandium, gallium, garnet (Er,Cr:YSGG) lasers are currently being investigated for disinfecting the root canal system. Prior to using laser therapy, it is important to understand the temperature distribution and to assess thermal damage to the surrounding tissue. In this study, a theoretical simulation using the Pennes bioheat equation is conducted to evaluate how heat spreads from the canal surface using an Er,Cr:YSGG laser. Results of the investigation show that some of the proposed treatment protocols for killing bacteria in the deep dentin are ineffective, even for long heating durations. Based on the simulation, an alternative treatment protocol is identified that has improved effectiveness and is less likely to introduce collateral damage to the surrounding tissue. The alternative protocol uses 350 mW laser power with repeating laser tip movement to achieve bacterial disinfection in the deep dentin (800μm lateral from the canal surface), while avoiding thermal damage to the surrounding tissue (T<47°C). The alternative treatment protocol has the potential to not only achieve bacterial disinfection of deep dentin but also shorten the treatment time, thereby minimizing potential patient discomfort during laser procedures.

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