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The Secret to a Healthy Smile is in the Latest Dental Technology

New details about lasers, labs, and imaging.
Today’s dentistry can be about total health, not just routine teeth cleanings, fillings, and root canals. What you may not think about, but should consider, is the link between your oral and physical health. The oral cavity acts as a window to the rest of your health, says Dr. Mark Sowell, a cosmetic dentist with Sensational Smiles in Plano. Poor oral health is linked to diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease, Alzheimer’s, and certain cancers. “The plaque in your mouth is the same plaque that can clog your arteries,” Dr. Sowell says. “The bacteria from the gums enters into your bloodstream causing inflammation and can impact your health a variety of ways.”

According to Dr. Sowell, an affected oral and nasal anatomy can obstruct your airway, resulting in poor sleep quality. This is caused by a sympathetic neural high level of arousal that interferes with an adequate oxygen level while you sleep. “This can cause morning headaches and waking up feeling tired, or even insomnia,” he says. “Your brain has not been able to repair and rejuvenate itself in deep, REM sleep.” While some people are quick to diagnose this as sleep apnea, these symptoms are actually known as respiratory resistance, which comes long before sleep apnea, Dr. Sowell says.

Today’s dentistry can be about total health, not just routine teeth cleanings, fillings, and root canals. The oral cavity acts as a window to the rest of your health.

Dr. Mark Sowell

Fortunately, an experienced dentist who has trained in these advancements and who practices in a technologically advanced office can address these issues and get your mouth—and hopefully your general health—back in shape. The key element in a dentist having this ability, besides studying the current professional literature, is in training and owning the latest dental technology. If you are not sure what technology your dentist should be using in order to properly address your oral and systemic health issues related to respiratory health, a bit of research can get you up to speed.

3-D Imaging

“Three-dimensional imaging is ideal imaging for dental issues, such as TMJ, root canals, bone grafting, and dental implants, as well as for diagnosing airway obstruction,” Dr. Sowell says. “Because of more precise imaging, we are able to use advanced bone regeneration growth factors for both teeth and implants to address many oral health issues. Improved imaging allows for safer, more precise surgical planning.” Unlike traditional X-rays, 3-D imaging allows for a three-dimensional viewing of the jawbone, jaw joints, and sinuses. All films needed for surgery, joint problems, orthodontics, airway obstruction diagnostics, and routine care can be taken in a single location without referral to a special facility for patient convenience.


Dr. Sowell commonly cares for patients who are experiencing oral health issues that are typically related to periodontal disease and tooth and bone loss. Often, regenerative procedures are required, such as implant replacement, bone grafts, gum grafts or gum lifts, TMD therapy, drill-free fillings, and tooth whitening. Patients with fear or anxiety about going to the dentist often benefit from laser dentistry as it is gentle on the tissues and much less painful than traditional dental procedures. Laser dentistry is noninvasive, which usually means patients can receive multiple treatments in one visit. Other benefits of dental lasers include no sutures or surgery, little or no downtime after treatment, faster healing, reduced risk of infection, and a reduction in swelling and bleeding. “I like to call it the latest in the ‘non-cutting-edge’ dental technology,” he says. “In many cases, lasers completely replace the older cutting methods of oral surgery.”

Biolase Epic Diode Laser Sowell has one of the only dental offices in the Dallas equipped with both the Biolase Epic Diode Laser and the WaterLase iPlus Laser for comprehensive treatment and patient comfort. “Our certified dental hygienist has extensive experience and training in using the Biolase Epic Diode Laser,” Dr. Sowell says. “It is used exclusively to remove the biofilm in your gums. The biofilm grows in the inside lining of the gum around the teeth where bacteria multiply, and the laser targets the biofilm without affecting the healthy gum.” Traditional dental ultrasonics and scalers only treat the root surface and never remove the biofilm, resulting in bacterial regeneration and reinfection. According to Dr. Sowell, the utilization of this laser can reverse early and moderate gum disease efficiently and painlessly without shots or numbing, in most cases. The diode laser is also used to relieve pain and accelerate healing of the TMJ joint and muscles in addition to other regenerative procedures and for teeth whitening and the treatment of alphas ulcers.

WaterLase iPlus Laser. Sowell also offers his patients The WaterLase iPlus laser, a versatile, multi-powdered, high-frequency laser for all regenerative procedures, including treatment of advanced gum disease, implant placement, bone grafting, and gum lifts and leveling. Speed and precision are the secrets of the WaterLase iPlus Laser’s successful results. The high-powered laser interacts with water droplets to clean out debris and bacteria from both the gums without the vibration and heat of a drill. It acts as a miniature power washer flushing out the disease. It can treat gum and bone problems as well as cavities in a noninvasive manner.

Airway Obstruction/Sleep Apnea Diagnostics and Treatment

Dr. Sowell uses a series of in-office and at-home diagnostic tests and monitoring to evaluate airway obstruction.  “We use different monitors to evaluate a patient’s airway to see if they have upper respiratory resistance or if they have any oxygen saturation issues,” Dr. Sowell says. “This is particularly useful for people who feel chronically tired even though they’ve slept. The monitors measure their sleep quality. Ultimately, the results will reveal the kind of dental treatment they need to improve their airway during sleep. The results from the at-home monitor are run through a computer that reveals what’s going in their sleep and causing disruption. Fortunately, there are effective dental treatments for this.”

In-House Ceramic Laboratory

Whether for a cosmetic dentistry treatment or an appliance to treat sleep disturbances or teeth grinding, a dental lab is a necessity to get the right treatment or appliance. Dr. Sowell is one of the few dentists in Texas with an in-office ceramic laboratory. This amenity gives him the ability to create precision-crafted ceramic crowns or veneers because he can communicate directly with the ceramist and make any adjustments or color changes on the spot. This high-tech feature not only leads to customer satisfaction but a reduced number of office visits as well. The in-office dental laboratory helps Dr. Sowell avoid the problems commonly associated with long-distance lab communications. At any point in the process, issues that may arise can be discussed and corrected on the spot so that nothing is overlooked. Everything takes place in-house to ensure the best possible results and the greatest patient convenience and satisfaction. “In an age when most porcelain work is sent off to third-world countries to reduce labor costs, or manufactured in mass volume, this is a rare situation,” Dr. Sowell says. “Most of the tooth crowns fabricated in the United States are milled by machines. This can reduce the accuracy of the fit and create monochromatic, artificial tooth colors that may wear off over time. Having an in-house lab helps the ceramist to know each patient’s desires and expectations and allows the patient to approve the esthetics of their new smile before they are bonded permanently in place.”

For more than 35 years, Dr. Mark Sowell has served the community by providing state-of-the-art dental care. He is a nationally recognized expert in the fields of cosmetic dentistry, implant dentistry, and restorative dentistry. Because of his relentless commitment to excellence in all aspects of dental care, Dr. Sowell is often asked to lecture other dentists, and he attends over 100 hours of rigorous postdoctoral training each year. Dr. Sowell is a member of an elite group of dentists who have achieved both Master status with the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) and Accredited Membership with the prestigious American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD). Fewer than 40 dentists nationwide have earned both professional distinctions. While these recognitions illustrate Dr. Sowell’s dedication to providing the best that dentistry has to offer, he has achieved numerous other merits in the field of dentistry. He is also visiting faculty at Spear education in Arizona, teaching in workshops for faculty-generated treatment planning, including airway, TMD, gum and bone disease, esthetics (smile design), and function to create predictable, long-term results.