Dental Care

Tooth Whitening by Laser

Ever considered tooth whitening by laser? During our lifetime the enamel covering on our teeth can become stained for a lot of reasons.

It could be due to a personal habit such as smoking, drinking excessive amounts of tea or coffee, and even from eating specific foods.

Staining can also be something related to the health of the individual or the health of their teeth. Either way, it is important to know that discoloration of the enamel is actually not a permanent condition.

In fact, this problem can be reduced through the use of whitening tooth pastes, at-home treatments, and through professional methods too.

While the at-home systems might work to reduce discoloration over the matter of a few days or weeks, professional whitening by a cosmetic dentist is likely to give instant and brighter results.

At Home Or In The Dentist Office

What's the difference between the at-home whitening methods and the in-office treatments?

It is interesting to note that both utilize the same chemical compounds to get the job done, but it is the in-office or professional treatments that aim to hasten or speed up the results through the use of laser technologies.

First, let's just consider the compounds put on the teeth to make them lighter. The primary ingredient selected for the whitening process is old-fashioned peroxide.

The different gels and strips all have a range of concentrations, and it is usually the professional gels that have the highest amount available.

What many people do not realize is that the professional gels rely on the higher concentrations in order to speed up the process, while the at-home treatments use the lower concentrations and need to be on the teeth for longer periods of time.

This means that they both work to lighten the color of the teeth, but one simply takes much longer than the other.

Tooth Whitening by Laser

So, you might be asking, if they both use peroxide to different concentrations, and both lighten the coloration or staining on the teeth, why bother to pay for tooth whitening by laser at all?

The light accelerated bleaching techniques, usually called “laser whitening” rely on a variety of different kinds of light energy to achieve their dramatic and speedy results. A patient might see an LED, plasma arc, or halogen fixture shining down on their teeth, but it isn't the light itself that makes the whitening occur.

When a patient decides to go ahead and get tooth whitening by laser, the dental professional will first thoroughly clean the teeth. They will then use a pre-whitening color chart to determine the amount of staining and estimate the amount of improvement that can be achieved through a laser treatment.

They will then still apply the bleaching agent or gel as if they were doing a standard chemical whitening.

This would involve the use of rubber dams and mouth extenders that would prevent the flesh of the face and mouth from coming into contact with the whitening agent.

After the application has been completed, the dental professional will then shine the appropriate laser light fixture on the teeth.

What does tooth whitening by laser do?  The energy in the light will activate the molecules in the peroxide compound. This actually causes the material to breakdown into its most effective components, thereby boosting the potency of the gel and making the teeth whiter at a much faster rate.

Side Effects

Isn't tooth whitening by laser dangerous? In earlier eras, there were some risks associated with the process because they used to be far less controlled than they are today.

Back then, the pulp of the tooth could become a bit overheated and this would lead to discomfort and a bit of tooth sensitivity during and after the treatment of tooth whitening by laser. This never caused damage, just pain.

Today, the advances in technology have made it possible to get the same results with far less heat or ultraviolet emissions, and usually without any pain at all.

Other side effects of tooth whitening by laser might include a mild reaction to the chemical compounds in the gels too. These are highly concentrated bleaching agents and some patients find that their gum line or the lining of their mouth is a bit sensitive to the gel.

This is one of the reasons for the use of elaborate dams and guards when applying the gels and when activating them with the laser light.

Fortunately, the people prone to these kinds of side effects will usually be readily identified by their dental professionals in advance of the treatment. Such patients may have different options recommended or may have special post-whitening procedures that they will follow in order to reduce any possible discomfort.

Endurable Results

One thing that many people want to know is how long the results of their tooth whitening by laser will last.

This is a very interesting issue because there are several reasons that teeth might “rebound” to a darker shade in the weeks following the whitening.

Generally, the laser whitening process will allow the patient to enjoy the results for up to three months afterward, and even then the change in color will only be mild to moderate.

There are, however, some patients who see their original tooth discoloration reappear in a matter of a week or so after the treatment.

Why would this happen? Usually, if someone tends to consume inadequate supplies of water and fluid throughout the day they can become mildly to severely dehydrated.

When this same person seeks tooth whitening by laser treatment, they will enjoy the initial effects of the therapy, but the whitening of the teeth might actually be far less substantial than it appears because their teeth are also already dehydrated. In the week following the exposure to the gel and laser light, the teeth may get rehydrated and quickly darken to their original discoloration.

This means that you should consider your general health before heading into a dental professional for laser whitening.

Avoiding staining beverages, reducing the amount of smoking, and avoiding foods that might color the teeth are all good ideas, but you must also be sure that your body is adequately hydrated if you want to obtain accurate results that last for a long time afterward.


There are no long term problems associated with tooth whitening by laser, but many dental professionals insist that a combination of at-home treatments with the occasional professional therapy is usually the best approach.


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