Do you want to have whiter teeth for the summer without spending a fortune on expensive whiteners or dangerous bleach strips? You may be surprised at how easy it is.
When we consider getting our pearly whites white again this year, most people don’t immediately think of “LED light therapy.” But there’s no need to break out your old-school toothpaste anymore if that’s what you’re looking for — in fact, some experts say using these devices might even help prevent gum disease! Here are all the facts.
LED teeth whitening, also known as light-emitting diode teeth whitening, is a professional teeth whitening treatment that uses a special light to accelerate the whitening process.
Here’s how it works:
- A whitening agent, typically hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, is applied to the teeth.
- The LED light is directed at the teeth to activate the whitening agent and help it penetrate the enamel more effectively.
- The light energy helps break down the stain molecules, making removing them from the teeth easier.
- The whitening agent and the LED light lift and remove stains, resulting in brighter, whiter teeth.
LED teeth whitening is typically less expensive than laser teeth whitening and may be more comfortable for some people. It is important to note that LED teeth whitening should only be performed by a trained and licensed dental professional.
First off, what exactly does LED light therapy do? The process uses blue lights to remove plaque buildup, which can cause discoloration of your teeth. In short, it works by breaking down stains from within the pores of your teeth through oxidation.
It also helps promote healthy gums since bacteria cannot thrive in those bright lights. And while many brands offer products claiming they’ll give results overnight (or in as little as one session), others will take several weeks before seeing noticeable improvements.
For example, Dr. Perricone claims his product takes up to 90 days to show its full effects.
While this treatment has gained popularity over recent years, it did not become widely known until Dr. Nicholas Perricone created his anti-aging creams in 2005. He later developed a device called Photopea that used low levels of blue light to treat skin lesions and tumors.
When he discovered that this same technology could work effectively on teeth, he teamed up with dental expert Dr. Michael Dyson to create a system explicitly designed to improve the overall appearance of stained teeth.
So now that we know how LEDs get rid of gunk under the surface, let’s discuss some pros and cons. Keep reading to find out more.
How Does an LED Light Make Your Teeth Whiter?
One thing to note when considering LED whitening kits is that they typically contain two components: an agent and a timer. An agent is something like baking soda or peroxide gel that sits between your teeth and absorbs any excess food particles, so they don’t end up causing problems.
A typical kit should come with enough agents to last around three months. Afterward, you brush your teeth as usual.
The other component included in the kit is the timer. These units usually resemble a regular clock radio with a small bulb inside instead of a traditional AM/FM dial. They turn on automatically after preprogrammed time increments and then shut themselves off once the cycle ends.
This feature allows them to emit the energy needed to clean away the tartar and polish accumulated beneath your enamel. Some timers are meant to run continuously throughout the night, while others only go on for 20 minutes at a stretch.
If you choose to buy a kit with a timer, check whether it includes extra batteries.
A good quality LED whitener can cost anywhere from $100 to upwards of hundreds of dollars, depending on the brand name, size, and frequency of treatments. On average, prices range between $150-$250.
As long as the company behind the product provides legitimate reviews online, users tend to report positive experiences with their purchases. Of course, finding trustworthy information regarding the effectiveness of specific products isn’t always straightforward, so pay careful attention to ratings and customer feedback before making a purchase.
Also, remember that the higher costs aren’t necessarily due to increased quality. Many companies inflate their prices because they lack marketing budgets to advertise aggressively, thus forcing consumers to spend more money to seek out services.
Now that we’ve discussed what LED light therapy involves, let’s discuss whether it works. Read ahead to learn why some experts believe this whitening doesn’t provide significant benefits compared to cheaper options.
In addition to cleaning your teeth, LED light therapy can potentially reduce signs of aging caused by sun damage. According to studies published in 2010, it may also protect against cardiovascular diseases and cancerous tumors.
However, unlike UV light lamps used in tanning beds, which can permanently burn your skin, LED therapy won’t leave you redder than usual afterward. Instead, it stimulates collagen production, leading to healthier tissue growth.
Pros and Cons of Blue Light Teeth Whitening
Blue light is said to play a vital role in stimulating collagen production, which makes sense since it appears to increase blood flow, allowing nutrients to reach cells better. Aside from helping build stronger bones, research suggests that blue light may also fight certain cancers and infections.
One study found that mice exposed to blue rays were less likely to develop breast tumors than nonirradiated controls. Another study showed that low doses of blue light helped kill malignant brain tumor cells in lab rats.
However, while researchers continue to explore possible medical applications for blue lights, there’s still much debate surrounding how effective this kind of whitening is.
While some claim that LED light therapy removes deep stains, others contend that it offers negligible results compared to other methods. Some swear by its ability to eliminate minor blemishes, especially ones caused by nicotine staining.
Some critics point out that LED light therapy can weaken sensitive tissues such as gums and lips more easily because of heat generated during the procedure. With that being said, however, most patients report that side effects feel milder than with other kinds of whitening solutions.
Finally, unlike other methods, LED light therapy requires almost no maintenance beyond brushing afterward since it leaves no residue.
As mentioned earlier, LED whitening products often include both a cleanser and a timer. Some people who try these kits experience adverse reactions after each treatment. Users complain about soreness, burning sensations, and headaches following sessions.
Additionally, some customers noticed unpleasant odors coming from their mouths, sometimes accompanied by halitosis. Since most of these issues occur shortly after the treatment, they may indicate that the unit was improperly calibrated or left running too long.
Other common complaints include bad breath and loose fillings becoming dislodged.
But despite reports of harsh side effects, some dentists recommend LED whitening because of its minimal nature and potential health benefits. Remember to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully and consult a professional before starting.
Whitening agents aside, some manufacturers market products containing substances like sodium fluoride that can stain your teeth. Although these compounds are harmless, it would probably be best to avoid using them altogether.
Their presence means that the solution wasn’t adequately sterilized before the sale, leaving room for contaminants. Even though the risk is low, it’s worth avoiding unnecessary risks.
How Long Does LED Teeth Whitening Last?
LED whitening kits generally promise to boost the color of your smile for up to four months or longer. How quickly results appear depends on how well the individual user follows directions.
First, consider taking a daily oral hygiene routine consisting of twice-daily brushing and flossing and weekly visits to the dentist.
It’s important to understand that LED whitening relies on a series of procedures rather than a single application. During each session, the unit emits low amounts of blue light that gradually penetrate your teeth, loosening debris and polishing surfaces accordingly. Each session lasts roughly 15 to 30 minutes, followed by routine brushing and rinsing.
Depending on the duration and intensity of each session, results vary significantly among individuals. Typically, users notice improvement within a week or two. Once the desired shade starts showing, subsequent sessions should yield increasingly brighter smiles.
Of course, everyone reacts differently to different things. What works great for someone else may not work quite as well for another person. Therefore, it’s essential to closely monitor reactions to see how satisfied you are with the results, particularly when beginning the process.
If you plan to whiten your teeth, consider asking your doctor for recommendations. Doctors can refer you to reputable whitening providers based on location.
Or ask friends and family members who have undergone the service for advice. Although home kits generally cost significantly less, professionals can charge anywhere from $75 to $300 per sitting.
According to industry estimates, Americans spent nearly $3 billion on teeth-whitening products in 2013 alone.