Amplification of pressure waves in laser-assisted endodontics with synchronized delivery of Er:YAG laser pulses

When attempting to clean surfaces of dental root canals with laser-induced cavitation bubbles, the resulting cavitation oscillations are significantly prolonged due to friction on the cavity walls and other factors. Consequently, the collapses are less intense and the shock waves that are usually emitted following a bubble’s collapse are diminished or not present at all. A new technique of synchronized laser-pulse delivery intended to enhance the emission of shock waves from collapsed bubbles in fluid-filled endodontic canals is reported. A laser beam deflection probe, a high-speed camera, and shadow photography were used to characterize the induced photoacoustic phenomena during synchronized delivery of Er:YAG laser pulses in a confined volume of water. A shock wave enhancing technique was employed which consists of delivering a second laser pulse at a delay with regard to the first cavitation bubble-forming laser pulse. Influence of the delay between the first and second laser pulses on the generation of pressure and shock waves during the first bubble’s collapse was measured for different laser pulse energies and cavity volumes. Results show that the optimal delay between the two laser pulses is strongly correlated with the cavitation bubble’s oscillation period. Under optimal synchronization conditions, the growth of the second cavitation bubble was observed to accelerate the collapse of the first cavitation bubble, leading to a violent collapse, during which shock waves are emitted. Additionally, shock waves created by the accelerated collapse of the primary cavitation bubble and as well of the accompanying smaller secondary bubbles near the cavity walls were observed. The reported phenomena may have applications in improved laser cleaning of surfaces during laser-assisted dental root canal treatments.

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