When it comes to whitening your teeth, you have lots of options. Some work better than others — and some are just plain crazy (or dangerous). The good news is that there’s a safe way to get whiter pearly whites without spending the rest of your life in pain or risking an accident at home with one of those fancy over-the-counter kits.
Teeth whitening lights, also known as “accelerator lights,” are used in some in-office teeth whitening treatments to help speed up the bleaching process. These lights are typically LED lights that emit a specific wavelength of light that is thought to help activate the bleaching agent and improve its effectiveness.
During a teeth whitening treatment that uses a light, the dental professional will first apply a bleaching agent to the teeth. The light is then directed at the teeth for a set amount of time, usually around 15 to 20 minutes. The light may be held in place using a mouthpiece or a tray or moved around to different areas of the mouth.
It is important to note that the effectiveness of teeth whitening lights is not well-established, and the use of these lights is somewhat controversial in the dental community.
Some studies have suggested that they may be effective at improving the whitening results, while others have found no significant difference in treatments with and without light.
Teeth Whitening Light Devices Explained
The next time someone asks if you’ve tried any new teeth whiteners this year, give them a blank stare and say, “no.” Sure, you could try using baking soda as a natural homemade teeth whitener, but why waste money when you can use your own two hands?
If only you knew what was going on inside your mouth! There are several ways to achieve professional results while saving yourself from having to deal with side effects like dry gums, sore mouths, and painful jaw muscles.
Most people who undergo dental procedures end up paying far more to visit their dentist than if they had taken care of things themselves. So the next time somebody tells you you need braces, tell them no thanks. Instead, opt for something safer and less expensive. Here’s a quick rundown of three popular methods used by dentists worldwide.
What Does The Blue Light Do For Teeth Whitening?
If you’re familiar with certain fish tanks, you know that adding a little food coloring can make your aquarium look much healthier. This phenomenon occurs because colored dyes absorb specific wavelengths of sunlight, causing the water to take on the hue of the dye.
When the same process happens within our bodies, pigments called melanin to absorb ultraviolet rays, giving us a darker skin tone. Melanocytes produce melanin during sun exposure, which causes the pigment to accumulate under the epidermis layer.
As melanin accumulates underneath the skin, its dark appearance helps protect against harmful solar radiation. This explains why we tan faster after being indoors for long periods.
First, to understand how teeth whitening works, let’s go back to biology class. We already mentioned that melanin protects our skin from damaging sun rays. But did you also notice that melanin doesn’t exist outside our body systems?
That means melanin isn’t necessarily deficient for our health. On the contrary, melanin has been shown to help fight off cancerous cells. What’s even crazier is that scientists discovered that melanin produces vitamin D2 when exposed to ultraviolet light.
Vitamin D2 is essential for strong bones, healthy immune function, and proper brain development [Source: Cunnane]. Since melanin absorbs UVB rays emitted by tanning beds, many experts believe that it may be beneficial for humans to experience low levels of myelotoxicity.
So now that we know how UV filters work, we should probably talk about how they affect teeth-whitening devices. Most of today’s top brands offer products with particular blue LED lights that emit invisible UVA/UVB waves designed to break down stains on teeth.
By doing so, the device stimulates melanin production, allowing users to enjoy whiter smiles without resorting to harsh chemicals. However, some companies claim their product will last longer since the visible wavelength spectrum won’t bleach sensitive areas like gum tissue.
Another perk of the technology is that it requires minimal maintenance compared to other forms of teeth bleaching. For example, patients undergoing treatment must return to the office every few weeks to re-apply the gel and allow enough time between sessions for the chemical reaction to occur. However, with this method, professionals don’t have to worry about whether or not patients followed instructions correctly.
Does The Blue Light Whiten Teeth?
For anyone who likes playing video games, chances are pretty high that you’ve played through a game where you were given a choice of weapons. Usually, gamers pick either handguns or rifles based on personal preference.
Then again, some prefer swords or axes. Of course, each weapon serves a particular purpose, depending on the type of gameplay involved. While guns might shoot bullets at enemies and swords might slice into wooden beams, blue light lamps cannot kill anything. And while they can help remove traces of stain buildup in your mouth, the intensity of these lamps cannot compare to the amount of power required to generate a laser beam.
Although lasers serve essential purposes, such as telecommunications networks, military defense, and scientific research, they still require extra effort to utilize correctly. Luckily, teeth-whitening devices typically contain tiny bulbs instead of powerful LEDs.
Since blue light stimulates melanogenesis, many customers notice brighter white teeth after therapy. One study at Stony Brook University found that subjects experienced significant improvements in overall oral hygiene habits following six months of daily usage.
Additionally, researchers concluded that individuals’ perception of whiteness increased significantly after utilizing the devices for 30 minutes per day for 90 days. Unfortunately, some consumers may find their teeth become noticeably discolored after extended treatments lasting 45 minutes or more due to overexposure to the lamp’s intense blue light.
However, according to Dr. Joseph Wicarelli, director of cosmetic dentistry at Beth Israel Hospital in New York City, minor changes in teeth coloration usually fade away within 48 hours.
One drawback of some teeth whitening light units is that they cause burning sensations along the gum line. To reduce discomfort caused by the heat generated within the mouth, professionals recommend placing gauze pads soaked with coolant between the lips and cheeks. Afterward, rinse your mouth thoroughly with warm salt water until the burn sensation subsides.
Does UV Light Teeth Whiten Work?
Although most people associate UV light with tanning bed lamps, the term “ultraviolet” refers to a broad range of electromagnetic frequencies created naturally by the sun and stars. Certain combinations of UV waves are responsible for triggering reactions within living organisms.
Expressly, UVA and UVB represent two separate categories of radiation that trigger cellular processes associated with DNA replication, protein synthesis, and cell division. These waves act as catalysts for photosynthesis, producing oxygen from carbon dioxide. Other sources include fluorescent lighting fixtures, tanning beds, and tanning lotions.
As previously stated, most people assume that exposing teeth to UV light increases the risk of damage to delicate tissues within the mouth. However, the truth couldn’t be further from the assumption. Most practitioners agree that teeth whitening lamps pose a minimal threat to the gum tissue. Dentists often refer to the effect as photochemical leucosis.
These lights interact with molecules containing carbons to form free radicals. Free radicals then attack the proteins within teeth enamel, effectively breaking down stains. According to studies published by the American Association for Dental Research, the potential for negative consequences of gum irritation is minimal.
Furthermore, since the lamp emits invisible waves, light doesn’t penetrate deep enough to reach parts of the mouth below the outermost surface layers of mucus membranes and epithelial linings. Therefore, teeth whitening solutions do not irritate surrounding soft tissue, unlike regular whitening strips.
While UV lights provide effective alternatives to traditional teeth whitening methods, experts caution consumers to exercise extreme caution before attempting DIY techniques. First, make sure that you consult a medical provider before initiating any self-treatment plan involving artificial light sources.
Next, consider consulting a licensed practitioner who specializes in teeth whitening procedures. Finally, everyone reacts differently to external factors like diet, medications, and stress levels. As such, never attempt teeth whitening procedures without discussing your goals and expectations beforehand.