clinician spotlight

Better Pediatric Dentistry – A Look at The Clinical and Behavioral Benefits of Laser Dentistry

By Dr. Leslie Blackburn

I have been a BIOLASE dentist since 2017. At the time, I was in the process of transitioning from associate to practice owner when our old diode laser gave out. I looked around and fell in love with the Waterlase iPlus all-tissue laser. Purchasing it was the best decision ever.

I use the Waterlase for everything, along with the Epic for some procedures. I have successfully staged non-verbal autistic kids into using it for restorative procedures, so I feel like if I can do that, I can get pretty much any kiddo to give it a go. Over the years, I’ve had many memorable patient cases, but I must say the ones that I’m most fortunate to help treat are my special needs patients.

Waterlase Dentist - Dr. Leslie Blackburn

On one occasion, I had a minimally-verbal patient who was the dreaded ADHD/autism combo – super short attention span combined with high levels of sensory aversion. When I first started seeing this patient at age four, she couldn’t even get in the clinic without high anxiety and sitting in the chair was a no-go. We gradually worked her into being able to tolerate a true prophylactic visit and found she had an occlusal on #A. With the speed and lesser stimulation of the Waterlase, at age five, I was able to stage her into doing the filing with no sedation.

Another wonderful case I recall is one with another autistic patient. In the past, she had only had work done under IV sedation, but her mom and I really didn’t want to have to do that for her. After a few confidence-building appointments we tried again with the Waterlase, and she did it! Since then, I’ve been able to do occlusal and interproximal restorations on her with no need for sedation.    

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From a behavioral standpoint, I love not having to inject my patients and knowing they don’t have to deal with the numbness afterward. It allows me to do procedures on kids that otherwise would not be able to tolerate them. I often do fillings on 2-year-olds and kids with special needs that could make it difficult for them to tolerate the stimulation of an injection. 

My patients absolutely LOVE the Waterlase. In fact, I think my laser has gotten a significant number of new patients for one of my general dentist partners that also has a hard-tissue laser as parents experience how much less stressful the laser is during and after the procedure.

I also use the Waterlase for soft-tissue procedures. Being a pediatric dentist, I use it for gingivectomies, frenectomies, and other such things. I love the Waterlase for soft-tissue procedures because healing time is so much shorter than with my diode or old-school blade. In fact, some of my speech pathology partners mentioned that my three-day post-op with the Waterlase looks like a 1-2 week post-op from other non-Waterlase partners! 

I cannot say enough about my BIOLASE lasers and the benefits my patients get from kinder, gentler dentistry. I now own two Waterlase iPlus lasers and I don’t intend to ever practice without lasers again. I tell people that there are a few things I just would not do without in my practice – my IsoLight and my BIOLASE lasers. For me they are invaluable.

Better Pediatric Dentistry

Help your young patients foster a healthier life-long mindset about oral care and eliminate “fear of the dentist”. Learn more about Better Pediatric Dentistry with Waterlase!

Dr. Leslie Blackburn

About Leslie Blackburn, DDS, MS

I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. My father was still in training to be an ENT, so we moved around a lot before settling in beautiful Jonesboro, Arkansas. After graduating from Jonesboro High School I headed off to Provo, Utah, where I attended Brigham Young University, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology in 2003. Although I always knew I wanted to work with children, after graduating I took a few years to look at my career options and decided in what way I would work with kids. Finally, I decided that pediatric dentistry was the career for me. I went to Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in New York and received my Doctorate of Dental Surgery and also a Masters of Science and Dental Education in 2012. Then I completed the final leg of my education at Yale University, receiving my certificate in Pediatric Dentistry in 2014.

Learn more about Dr. Blackburn at or follow her on Facebook and Instagram.