Our childhood teeth are pearly white. As we age, our teeth get stained due to the food we eat, poor dental hygiene, environmental factors and such. These foreign materials form a pellicle film on top of the tooth enamel, the brightness reduces and our teeth become dull. While proper brushing and flossing can remove superficial stains, more stubborn stains require teeth cleaning to be done periodically. This process of removing teeth stains using bleaching or other agents is called teeth whitening. A bleaching agent – usually hydrogen or carbamide peroxide is used on the teeth. These agents when used on tooth enamel start a chemical (oxidation) reaction which breaks down the compounds which cause the stains. The dentist is usually the person to undertake teeth whitening procedures although there are many excellent at-home teeth whitening kits available that can remove such stains too.
LED Teeth Whitening – Benefits and Issues
Teeth whitening procedures at the dentist can take two forms. In one, the dentist will prepare a customized mouth tray after taking an impression of your teeth. He will then supply you with a bleaching gel that has to be applied on the mouth tray and placed on the teeth for specific periods of time.
The other method is called laser whitening or power whitening or LED teeth whitening. In this, a specific concentration of teeth whitening gel is painted on the teeth and a blue light or laser is shone on the paint. This activates the bleaching gel and teeth get whitened. The wavelenght of cold blue LED light used is of around 465 nanometers. This process can take about an hour (varies from case to case). Using a laser or LED lightening system allows better absorption of the bleaching agent. This makes this system very fast and effective. This process is also called chairside bleaching and requires more than one visit to the dentist. Each visit can last between 30-60 minutes depending on the extent of stains or the concentration of the bleaching gel used. The dentist will place a rubber shield or apply protective gel on the gums. This is to protect soft tissue from getting aggravated by the bleaching agent. LED teeth whitening is now popular among heavy smokers.
The effectiveness of the system depends upon lots of factors such as kind of gel used – carbamide vs. hydrogen peroxide, gel’s concentration, how strong is the discolouring, how patients enamel reacts / responds to gel, ability of the dentist and effectiveness of the equipment.
The cost of such laser whitening varies. This depends on the reputation of the dentist, the equipment used, the number of sittings required (depending on the extent of stains) and such. For those with extensive staining, the dentist may also recommend at-home tooth whitening products so that the treatment can be continued at home.
Laser or LED teeth whitening is said to be the easiest and most effective way to get rid of stains quickly. LED teeth whitening has the advantage of targeting even hidden debris between the teeth. The main issue with LED teeth whitening is that it is very expensive. Some dentists can even charge $600 per session but promise that your teeth can get even 11 shades lighter. These costs can even escalate to over $1000. You may also need to wait for an appointment or reschedule your work to fit in the dentist’s appointment.
LED teeth whitening as undertaken by a dentist also has the important advantage that the dentist will first examine our teeth before the procedure. He or she can then recommend if the procedure is right for you. The dentist can also check for decayed teeth, cavities, infected gums or other conditions that need to be treated before commencing an LED teeth whitening procedure. The dentist can even monitor the levels of sensitivity that might occur and accordingly reduce the concentration of the bleaching gel. Finally, the dentist can even recommend other methods of teeth whitening if LED method is not suitable.
Popular LED teeth whitening Kits
It is usually recommended that LED teeth whitening be undertaken by a dentist. However, there are some OTC products available. Check with a dentist if you can use these systems. Some do come with an FDA approved LED light. Read online reviews and compare costs before purchasing one.
- ‘Night Bright LED Teeth Whitening System’ contains a LED blue light which is FDA approved and a high grade bleaching gel. The kit can be used for at least 12 sessions and can make teeth even 8 shades brighter.
- ‘Easy Smile – Kit Tooth Whitening’ comes with an LED light, 20cc of 35% concentration carbamide gel, 2 mouth trays and 3cc remineralization gel. It is said to be gentle on teeth and a very effective teeth whitening system. Follow the easy-to-use instructions. This system can be used for 15-30 minutes a day for 5-14 days.
LED teeth whitening is relatively safe. Few side effects which could occur include a sore throat, white patches on the gums, sensitivity to cold or hot drinks and tender or inflamed gums. The dentist will be able to treat these or the side effects if minimal will normally disappear once the procedure has been completed.
Following certain precautions will certainly help. First choose an experienced and qualified dentist. Getting the opinion of former patients will help. Always remember that teeth whitening is not permanent. It is important to maintain teeth by proper brushing and flossing. Visit the dentist twice a year for touch-up procedures. Always be realistic and do not expect to get blindingly white teeth. Children, pregnant women, those with sensitive teeth, allergies, cavities, exposed roots or worn enamel, fillings and crowns or restorative work on their teeth cannot undergo a teeth whitening procedure.