Sure, you can whiten your teeth with a trip to the dentist. But if you’re looking for something less expensive and more permanent, there’s an alternative that uses ultraviolet light energy to bleach your smile. How does it work?
Sure, we all know how good we’d look if only our smiles were as white as milk or snow.
Unfortunately, most people aren’t blessed by genes — or at least they weren’t when I was growing up in Alabama.
The problem of tooth discoloration is called melanin pigmentation. While some people may be born this way, others get it over time through diet, skin exposure, medication use, and other factors.
If you’ve tried everything else to try and improve your smile, maybe one day you’ll find yourself in need of whiter teeth.
There are several home remedies available for whitening your teeth safely and inexpensively. You could always go see a professional cosmetic dentist and pay thousands of dollars out-of-pocket for bleaching procedures. Or, you could take matters into your own hands.
One such option is using safe, low concentrations of hydrogen peroxide gel applied directly to your pearly whites. Another popular method involves applying strips containing carbamide peroxides to your teeth.
Either procedure will help reduce the appearance of stains, although neither will remove deep-set pigmentation permanently.
However, these methods offer long-term results, whereas other treatments typically don’t last longer than two weeks.
If you want to give teeth whitening another shot without waiting months for results, consider trying oral hygiene products made specifically to make your teeth whiter faster. This new approach has gained popularity among those who prefer fast treatment options rather than waiting around for weeks.
More commonly referred to as UV-sensitive teeth whiteners, their active ingredients include regular peroxide and newer compounds such as blue chromium oxide. These gels contain lower percentages of hydrogen peroxide than traditional ones, making them gentler enough to avoid burning your mouth tissue.
Many dermatologists recommend using these products instead of stronger ones designed for daily use due to safety concerns associated with higher concentrated solutions.
The idea behind them is simple — apply a thin layer of product to your teeth twice weekly until the desired coloration occurs.
While these products sound promising, they should still be considered temporary fixes. Read on to learn why UV rays are ideal for treating staining and discoloring of teeth.
What Are The Basics of Teeth Whitening?
First, when discussing ways to achieve brighter, whiter teeth, let’s talk about the basics. People often think that removing surface stains requires bleaching agents such as sodium tetraborate decahydrate solution, also known as baking soda.
While milder forms of stain removal can occur via this process, it doesn’t address deeper-seated problems such as melanin buildup within enamel layers. To combat chronic stains caused by melanin, you must seek a form of therapy that works below the gum line.
However, bleaching gels and pastes do allow for this kind of action and are widely recommended for patients seeking a quick fix.
One reason why people choose to treat themselves at home is convenience. You can buy the product with oral care kits and then pop it under the sink, where it becomes ready for application.
After washing your face or brushing your teeth, apply a small amount of the product to your front upper teeth and gently rub it between your thumb and forefinger. If needed, repeat this step once or twice before moving onto the next section of your mouth.
Then rinse thoroughly with water. Depending upon the kit you purchase, expect treatment times ranging from five minutes to half an hour, depending upon the concentration of its active ingredient(s).
Some companies even sell special trays specially designed for comfort during self-application.
When done right, the result should be noticeably lighter teeth. Of course, no matter what type of teeth whitener you decide to use, remember that results won’t stay consistent unless proper oral hygiene habits are maintained throughout the entire procedure.
Now that we understand what goes inside your mouth, read on to discover precisely how UV light helps bleach your teeth.
How Does UV Light Bleach Your Teeth?
Teeth whitening products usually contain either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, though some brands combine the two substances to create a thicker gel. Both chemicals break down easily into oxygen gas molecules, allowing for penetration of pores and tissues beneath the surface of the teeth.
Hydrogen peroxide contains 10 percent hydrogen peroxide, while carbamide peroxide includes 6 percent. For best effect, experts say you shouldn’t exceed 8 percent peroxide levels when using nonprescription versions intended for occasional use, especially if you have sensitive gums. Higher amounts require medical supervision.
Most individuals who regularly consume alcohol, smoke cigarettes, or chew tobacco tend to experience decreased sensitivity to pain. The effectiveness of these products varies based on multiple factors, including duration of usage, age, health condition, personal preference, and overall lifestyle. A person’s general state of hydration plays a large role, too.
On the contrary, smokers tend to feel discomfort regardless of whether they use prescription strength gels. Other potential side effects include irritated gums, dryness, red spots, sore throats, and nausea.
Allergic reactions and rashes may occur as well. Before attempting UV-sensitive teeth whitening, individuals with diabetes should consult their physician.
Finally, keep in mind that some studies indicate that UV ray treatment may cause damage to the eye lens, particularly in prolonged sessions. Therefore, opt for shorter periods and wear protective eyewear.
LED lights are becoming increasingly popular as replacements for standard fluorescent and incandescent bulbs. They emit light waves that fall outside human visible wavelengths, meaning they cannot burn flesh or melt the plastic.
Because of this property, LEDs are becoming popular choices for applications involving surgery, cancer detection, tanning beds, lighting highways, and powering vehicles.
Now, researchers are employing similar technology in dentistry to provide practical, convenient alternatives to traditional tools like lasers and high-intensity halogen lamps. Unlike other sources of light energy, which focus intense beams of energy toward targets, LED lights radiate tiny bits of power across broad areas.
Each component emits light individually, creating a 360-degree field that penetrates deeply located stains and plaque buildups. With all things taken into consideration, how safe is UV-sensitive teeth whitening?
Safety Concerns of UV Teeth Whitening
Oral hygiene remains an essential aspect of maintaining healthy teeth and gums, yet sometimes neglect can lead to painful consequences. Even if you brush and floss diligently, bad breath, cavities, and periodontal diseases can develop if bacteria gets trapped between your teeth.
Bacteria thrive inside your mouth, feeding off sugars and starches found naturally in saliva.
When bacterial growth reaches epidemic proportions, plaque begins forming, coating every inch of exposed surfaces. Plaque is soft and sticky, but fortunately, it can’t penetrate the protective outer covering of enamel.
Once it finds itself stuck, however, bacteria begin secreting toxins that attack tissues and cells underneath the hard surface of teeth.
Left untreated, advanced cases can cause profound bone loss that affects surrounding nerves, leading to complete tooth loss. Over time, plaque builds up leads to tartar, eventually causing decay and gum disease.
Fortunately, modern science provides preventive means of combating this common ailment. Many commercial toothpaste, chewing gums, and lozenges promise to clean your teeth effectively.