Teeth whitening is gaining in popularity. With that comes more harmful procedures, ineffective products, and scams to fool consumers into spending more money. It is one of the most commonly requested procedures among dental patients when visiting the dentist.
Whitening is the process of making your teeth look whiter. The most effective whitening is intrinsic, meaning it causes changes in the tooth enamel. It lasts longer and is more effective than extrinsic methods that simply remove surface stains.
Bleaching is cheaper than it used to be, and it is the least invasive procedure for whitening your teeth. However, you should always weigh your options and talk to a dental professional about the safety and side effects of any procedure before continuing.
An exam should precede any method you pursue and a dentist should supervise the visit to minimize the harmful effects. Most people want their teeth to be whiter, but be cautious of the products you can do at home on your own. They are often harmful and don’t last.
Laser Teeth Whitening Procedures
Dental offices are the only places licensed to administer laser teeth whitening procedures. These procedures are the most expensive way to whitening your teeth but they have dramatic results. The technician applies bleach to each tooth individually while the heat from a laser speeds up and enhances the bleach’s effectiveness.
The strong bleaching gel combined with the laser makes it more effective in a shorter period of time. It contains high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide ranging from twenty-five to forty percent. Your dentist takes special precautions to reduce sensitivity and to protect other parts of your mouth like lips and gums.
Your dentist uses things like cheek retractors, dams, desensitizing pastes, and professional application to ensure your complete safety. High amounts of bleaching agents cause oral tissue damage, so it’s important that these procedures are supervised appropriately.
Other Teeth Whitening Methods
You can purchase over-the-counter products to achieve the same effect. They are available at the drug store or supermarket. They don’t contain the same concentration of bleaching agents, so the results may vary. However, they’re cheaper and safer for in-home use. These products come in many forms including:
- Whitening strips
- Whitening gum
Don’t be fooled by their ease of use. They can still cause damage and should be used no more than once every six months. Because they don’t produce the same desired effects as an in-office treatment, some people fall victim to using these products too often, causing irreversible damage to oral tissue.
The money you save on the procedure itself could end up costing more in the long run. It is difficult, if not impossible to correct some forms of damage. This damage causes painful side-effects, and repairing damage to your teeth and gums is not cheap.
What to Remember about Teeth Whitening
Not everyone is a candidate for laser teeth whitening procedures because of cost, insurance, and safety concerns. Review your options with a provider before making any decisions.
Laser teeth whitening procedures take about an hour and must be done in the dental office. Costs vary depending on the equipment used and the treatment plan you and your dentist agree on. Different offices implement different systems, contributing to the cost. It is also common to need several treatments to achieve the desired results. Following up with bleach trays at home improve and maintain these results and add to the cost.
Dental insurance doesn’t cover cosmetic procedures like teeth whitening treatments so you’ll be covering the cost out of your own pocket. This renders it an impossible solution for some people.
The Food and Drug Administration approves of laser teeth whitening; however, the American Dental Association does not. While they are cautiously optimistic about the future of laser dentistry, they have not yet proven its safety or efficacy. There is potential for the use of lasers in other areas of the dentistry profession, so the ADA continues to conduct the appropriate research.
Laser teeth whitening is a very new procedure. As with all new procedures, there is a limited knowledge base. Experts don’t yet know all of the possible long-term effects of such a procedure, so do your research, speak with a profession, and give careful consideration to your health before making any decisions.
You have to decide which method of whitening is right for you. Cost and safety are concerns that everyone considering laser teeth whitening should consider. While laser teeth whitening is safer and more effective than at-home solutions, it is more expensive. However, with the damage you do to your teeth using in-home products, you may make up for the cost savings in future dental problems.
This guest post is a work of Paul Lee promoting Thantakit International Dental Center, Thailand’s pioneer in dental implants and a sought after center for laser teeth whitening in Bangkok.