In the world of cosmetic dentistry, laser teeth whitening is one option. But, shooting lasers into your mouth might make you nervous. So, is laser teeth whitening safe?
To make a long story short: yes. Laser teeth whitening is handled by trained dentists who know what they are doing. Generally speaking, laser teeth whitening is a safe procedure. There are some exceptions to the rule if you have preexisting conditions.
But even if you aren't someone with existing dental problems, this doesn't mean it's entirely risk-free. So below, you'll find out more about the teeth whitening process, its advantages, and a few side effects you might run into.
So, if you want to improve your smile and have considered laser whitening, read below.
About Laser Teeth Whitening: A Quick Overview
Before we discuss some advantages and side effects, let's discuss how the process works.
First, I'd like to point out that laser teeth whitening is a cosmetic procedure. That means you won't get this from a regular dentist's office. You need to go to one that works in cosmetic dentistry. You can often find both in the same office.
Once you find one, it's a matter of setting up an appointment with them to assess your wants. Typically, the dental professional will start this appointment by showing you your current tooth shade and offering you a few better shades.
You get professional teeth cleaning to remove any gunk or grime when the procedure starts. You don't want to whiten the plaque on your teeth, so a clean mouth is a must.
Once cleaning is finished, the dentist covers your teeth with a whitening gel. This gel is often carbamide peroxide or a similar peroxide-based agent. The dentist should also set up a divider in your mouth to ensure that the whitening agent doesn't get on your gums.
Once your teeth are coated, the dentist activates the gel using a powerful laser. The laser heats the gel, which starts its natural whitening properties.
Side Effects Of Laser Teeth Whitening
The data shows that laser teeth whitening is a safe procedure. However, it isn't free of side effects, which is something anybody can experience.
Below, I've included some of the side effects that might happen to you.
Increased Tooth Sensitivity
The most common side effect of laser teeth whitening is increased sensitivity. Because your teeth are affected by a high-powered laser, this is a natural consequence.
Sensitivity is particularly notable for the first two days after the procedure. This is why cosmetic dentists recommend sensitive, colorless toothpaste before you begin.
It's good to know that most of the time, the sensitivity is temporary for patients. It often leaves in a couple of days, lasting for a couple of weeks.
Gum Irritation Or Damage
Another common side effect of laser teeth whitening is gum irritation. Specifically, this comes in the form of inflammation of the gums.
Cosmetic dentists will protect the gums using a sheet to combat this issue. The sheet is meant to separate the gums from the teeth, preventing exposure to hydrogen peroxide and laser.
If you have gum disease (gingivitis), whitening treatments like this aren't a great option. The procedure can irritate healthy gums, so putting it in unhealthy gums is likely to cause more discomfort. Thankfully, there are other teeth-whitening options out there.
Loss Of Fluoride And Minerals In The Teeth
The loss of fluoride and minerals in the teeth is a possibility with laser teeth whitening. This is why there are better solutions than laser teeth whitening for those with weak enamel.
But what if you have strong enamel?
To counteract this, you can use a fluoride treatment. A study of fluoride treatments after bleaching on bovine enamel revealed how it might help remineralize a tooth's surface.
This means you should brush your teeth using fluoride toothpaste that night. You can maintain whiteness and keep your teeth healthy by stepping back into a good oral health care routine.
Increased Risk Of Tooth Erosion Or Decay
As a result of the heated laser on your teeth and the natural strain of it, laser teeth whitening can increase the risk of erosion. Again, this is why laser whitening isn't an ideal solution if you have weak enamel.
The risk increases heavily for those with Bleachorexia, an addiction to tooth bleaching. The more you bleach your teeth continuously, the weaker your teeth become. This is why procedures can be spread out by up to 18 months.
Because teeth whitening duration only goes so far, you can make appointments in between. These check-ups will only include part of the whitening process, making them less stressful for your teeth.
Advantages Of Laser Teeth Whitening
Of course, with all the disadvantages of laser whitening, you have equal advantages. To find those out, you can just read below.
Brightens Dull Teeth
Laser teeth whitening is a proven method of brightening your teeth. Those who have been through the procedure can attest to this, and the data affirms this.
A 2017 review (comparing laser teeth whitening vs. bleaching) showed that laser whitening resulted in better results. So, it's a proven technique against other established whitening options. Of course, you might consider this alongside laser teeth whitening cost.
It's also generally faster than other at-home teeth whitening options. Custom whitening trays and natural teeth whitening remedies are both great alternatives.
But both have different speeds and effectiveness. Although, you might prefer them if you need more money to afford the higher teeth whitening costs at the professional level.
No Pain, Discomfort, Or Swelling
The teeth whitening procedure has numerous ways to remove pain or discomfort. This starts with a gum barrier, which acts as a block that prevents irritation.
This means that laser whitening is unlikely to cause any gum swelling. However, it might still irritate those with gingivitis, so you'll want to discuss your options with a cosmetic dentist.
Beyond the gum barrier, laser teeth whitening has also undergone a few upgrades. Narrow-band LED lights have the potential to make it easier to target the laser. As new developments come, you can expect this whitening procedure to become more effective.
With this in mind, even current lasers aren't known to cause any pain to teeth. While you can expect temporary sensitivity, accounting for this can help avoid potential discomfort.
Removes Stains And Discolorations
Laser teeth whitening is incredibly effective at addressing specific stains and discolorations. Those with spotty teeth will find laser whitening an excellent choice.
This makes laser a strong alternative to other teeth whitening options. Even when comparing laser teeth whitening vs. Zoom whitening, the laser option can be more effective at targeting specific teeth. Zoom still has strong properties inspired by the laser treatment.
This creates a natural drawback of laser teeth whitening: it tends to take longer. The usage of an individual laser requires more detail-oriented work. While this reduces discomfort, you must spend more time in the chair.
Laser whitening has proven to be an effective means of removing teeth' discoloration.
Offers Fast And Easy Whitening
Despite being slower than Zoom whitening, laser whitening is much faster than other options. At-home whitening and DIY whitening solutions are far slower than this laser-based alternative.
Typically, those who go through laser whitening procedures can see results almost immediately. When comparing this to baking soda toothpaste or at-home hydrogen peroxide, you won't have to wait a few weeks to see results.
The process is also simple with an experienced dentist. All you need to do is sit in the chair and wait for the procedure to be done. While this can take a few hours, you'll only need to do this once. This is much faster than some teeth whitening kits.
Despite how easy it is, you'll still need to follow good oral hygiene habits. Good teeth whitening advice is to stick to a good oral care routine. So remember to brush, floss, and use mouthwash regularly.
The Bottom Line
The data shows that laser teeth whitening is a safe and effective way of whitening teeth. However, it comes with some level of risk.
The most common side effects are sensitive teeth and irritated gums. Cosmetic dentists counteract this by erecting a gum barrier. You can help with sensitive teeth by getting special toothpaste made for sensitivity.
Other less common side effects include weakened enamel and increased decay. These side effects make laser whitening unsuitable for people who have pre-existing conditions. You might pursue alternative options if you have a history of weak enamel or gingivitis.
Despite the potential drawbacks, most of these problems are temporary. Of course, if you don't like these drawbacks, consider some in-office whitening alternatives.
Can Laser Whitening Damage Your Teeth?
Laser teeth whitening does not damage your teeth. Because the laser's only purpose is to activate the bleaching agent on your teeth, it has no effect otherwise. When handled by a trained professional, the procedure is incredibly safe. Please follow the instructions provided by the professional to ensure safety.
How Long Does Laser Teeth Whitening Last?
At its minimum, laser teeth whitening will last more than six months, although some have reported lasting more than a year. The procedure is sustained longer through touch-ups, which help replace parts of the bleaching agent that have worn off. You can help your laser teeth whitening last through regular care of your teeth.
Is Laser Whitening Permanent?
No, the process of laser teeth whitening is not permanent. To address its longevity, you can return for regular touch-ups to take care of the teeth. Because teeth are constantly used, they can stain again, especially when eating or drinking darker foods or drinks. You can help whiter teeth stay longer by avoiding foods that stain your teeth.
How Often Can You Laser Whiten Teeth?
Typically, you can laser your teeth every year. Some teeth whitening procedures stretch this time to a year and six months. Touch-up procedures happen every six months but only constitute a complete whitening process. Doing anything more can lead to negative consequences, such as weakened enamel or tooth decay.
Can I Brush My Teeth After Laser Whitening?
You can brush your teeth after the appointment but should avoid using colored oral hygiene products. Purchasing a plain, white toothpaste product is a good idea to support this. You might also buy sensitive toothpaste, as teeth whitening sometimes leads to sensitive teeth. Follow your dentist's instructions for a more detailed answer.
What To Avoid After Laser Teeth Whitening?
You'll want to avoid brightly colored foods after the teeth whitening procedure. This includes wine, coffee, most condiments, and marinara sauce. Anything with a pigment to it might restain your teeth, causing you to return to the office for a professional cleaning. You can follow a "white diet" and only eat foods without strong pigments for the first two weeks to maintain your color.
Can Laser Teeth Whitening Cause Sensitivity?
Yes, the laser teeth whitening process can cause sensitivity. Because the laser activates the gel, it becomes more potent. This increased potency is what makes the process effective, which leads to an increased change in sensitivity. By purchasing sensitive toothpaste before whitening, you can reduce irritation.