Sep 032015
 

Teeth Whitening with Light

Whitening teeth with light has been around for years.  However, early versions of this technology had side effects that made the process undesirable.

Problems with teeth sensitivity was the major problem.

Original iterations just went for the whitest of the white without regard for whether it was hurting your teeth.  Several of the products were used by early adopters and the pain was not worth the gain for most.

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So, companies adjusted.

These days, there are many variations of light technology.  Here are a few:

  • Halogen
  • LED
  • Plasma Arc

Power Bleaching

“SMILE” by Randy Robertson (CC BY 2.0), via Flickr.com

All of these light based technologies are often called “power bleaching”.

This is when one of the light technologies are used to “cure” hydrogen peroxide using some form of light.  This light is typically in the “blue” spectrum of light.

The blue spectrum is especially effective in triggering a reaction with hydrogen peroxide.  The user puts some form of gel or liquid containing a form of hydrogen peroxide in their mouth, swishes it around to put it all over your teeth, and then shines the blue light on your teeth for some period of time.

Halogen Light

Halogen is a type of light that typically can burn hot.  However, some products have figured out how to keep the light from getting too hot.

Some might be familiar with halogen light because they are more and more frequently being used in headlights for cars.

A halogen light works by have halogen gas mix with a tungsten filament to create a chemical reaction that emits light.

Beyond Dental & Health Gemini Teeth Whitening Accelerator

Beyond Dental and Health is a company that has created a product that takes advantage of halogen light.

This product includes a gel that is applied using a gel pen.

The process involves coating your teeth using the gel pen, and then using the halogen light to trigger a bleaching reaction.

The halogen light in the product is applied using a mouthpiece that you can grip with your teeth.

Using this method keeps you from getting “tired arm” by not forcing you to hold a light up to your mouth for the period of “shine” time that is required.

Reviewers find that this product does not cause teeth sensitivity.

LED Light

A light emitting diode (LED) is a type of light that reacts when voltage is applied.  The result is an effect called electroluminescence.  This process causes photons to be released which cause light to be emitted.  The light is in the blue spectrum.

Dr Song Home Professional Teeth Whitening Kit

Dr. Song’s Home Professional Teeth Whitening Kit is one of the most popular products in the teeth whitening genre.  The product comes with an LED light.

This product provides 1 years worth of teeth whitening capabilities if used once a week.

This product is coming up on 2,000 reviews on Amazon.  Over 90% of the reviews are positive (at least 3 stars).

Dr. Song also has a special demineralization gel  product that can be used after a treatment to help with any issues with any pain or sensitivity.  But, most of the reviews for this product indicate that most users don’t experience these types of discomforts.

If you give this product a try and you don’t like it, Dr. Song provides a 365 Day 100% No Hassle Money Back Guarantee.

Plasma Arc

The benefit of a Plasma Arc versus the other types of lights is the shorter time required for the light to have an effect.  Here are some Plasma Arc products and their benefits:

  • Dentamerica LITEX 685W provides a 2 to 3 second curing time.  Also, has a 5 second “step” curing mode for a more gradual curing (for those with more sensitivity).
  • Saphire Plus Plasma Arc Curing Light provides a dual arch for hands free application.
  • Lumibrite provides a chair side light that is typically provided at the dentist office.

Actually, all of these products are typically used in a dentist office since the equipment isn’t at a price point for the typical consumer.

Complications

Many of the products that include a light include the maximum percentage of either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.

Because of the high concentrations, the teeth whitening results were good.  But, a complication was that many of these products if accidentally placed on the gums would cause some discomfort.

Other issues found with some of the systems was that the mouth trays provided didn’t fit the customer.  Some of the products included instructions for how to boil the mouthpiece and form it to your own teeth.

But, even with those instructions some folks still had problems.

An additional issue that was not as prevalent was tooth sensitivity.  With the use of a light, heat is applied to your teeth.

Tooth dehydration was described as one possible reason for light seeming to make your teeth whiter for short periods of time (from a few hours to perhaps half a day).

Tooth dehydration over a long period of time (multiple treatments for an extended period of time), can weaken your teeth.  A very few reported broken teeth or teeth chips.  But, these were anecdotal stories with no real evidence to back up the thought that the teeth whitening light was the true source of the issue.

Conclusions

There are several conflicting studies that have been performed to test how effective different lights are when used to improve the teeth whitening process.

The general conclusion I’ve found when looking at who stands to gain from the studies, lead me to believe that light doesn’t have any long term (two weeks or more) effect on the whiteness of your teeth when compared to the same treatment without a light session.

Here is one source that seems to be wanting to debunk light as a treatment altogether.  This government study of multiple other studies was a little more objective and eventually came to the same conclusion that light was not a factor.

There is some slight wiggle room for the pro-light fans where manufacturers use dehydration as a possible reason for whiter teeth when looking at them immediately after a treatment.

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