Everyone deserves to have a beautiful, confident, and healthy smile, so it’s no wonder that there are so many at-home products on the market that help you combat yellow or stained teeth to achieve a brilliant sparkle. But there’s one teeth whitening product that’s gained attention in the past decade among celebrities and social media influencers that’s a bit more high-tech and a bit more expensive: an at-home UV teeth whitening kit. Here, we’ve laid out a few facts on the safety and effectiveness of these types of products, so you can understand how it works before considering it as an option for a whiter smile.
Is UV Teeth Whitening Safe?
How It Works
These kits are similar to a common in-office teeth whitening treatment, which involves a dental professional applying a peroxide-based whitening gel to your teeth, and placing a blue UV light over the teeth. Together, the gel and light create a system that can expedite the teeth whitening process. By using stronger peroxide formulas and light dental professionals can speed up the lightening process according to the Ontario Dental Hygienists' Association. The light-activated process may also give longer lasting results.
An at-home kit functions similarly and typically instructs you to apply a whitening gel to your teeth with a pen and then use a portable LED light over your teeth for a few minutes over a period of days. These kits often come with a higher price tag than other at-home whitening solutions, like whitening toothpaste or strips.
Safety of UV Teeth Whitening Kits
You might be wondering: is UV teeth whitening safe? The Canadian Dental Association notes that tooth-bleaching under controlled dental office conditions may be safe and effective, but the new in-office vital tooth-bleaching techniques, particularly those using laser and lights, have undergone little scientific assessment. The Canadian Dental Association Journal, also notes that peroxide when combined with heat sources (lasers/UV light) caused tooth sensitivity during and after the procedure.
Another critical safety consideration: there are no regulations associated with at-home UV light teeth whitening kits. Health Canada recommends consulting a dental professional for prolonged use of at-home whitening kits and to report any adverse reactions you have. You should always exercise precaution when using dental curing kits. According to the Oral Health Group, regulations on these kits vary from country to country. For instance, kits in Europe cannot legally contain more than 0.1% peroxide, whereas other countries allow for stronger amounts. Plus, some kits sold over the internet may contain extra ingredients that could be potentially harmful.
Colgate® Optic White® Overnight Whitening PenA teeth whitening pen with an enamel safe whitening serum formula designed for no tooth sensitivity.
So, to answer the question initially stated about safety, it’s unclear. Therefore you should avoid using UV light kits at home, as the research isn’t definitive enough to say that it’s safe. Medical studies indicate that patients should be informed of the risks associated with tooth whitening and, if using agents a home, instructed for identification of adverse occurrences in order to seek professional help if needed. Supervision of the tooth whitening strategy by an oral healthcare professional will reduce the potential risks and optimize benefits of tooth bleaching.
A potential issue in using UV teeth whitening is that there can be extreme user error, resulting in damage and even burns. The ratio of gel to UV exposure varies from kit to kit, and without the consultation of a dentist, you may not know your threshold for sensitivity. What's more, applying too much gel at one time can result in the gel conducting too much of the heat from the UV light, causing gum burns.
What if I injured myself with an at-home UV whitening kit?
If you’ve experienced any injury from a UV whitening kit, don’t panic—your oral health care provider will know what to do. If you’re injured, contact your oral health care provider immediately, and have the kit on hand to provide any information. From there, they will be able to help determine the best treatment.
Luckily, there are plenty of other safe and effective home whitening methods available—and they don’t break the bank either!
Teeth Whitening Alternatives
If you want to whiten at home, you’ve got options. One is to choose a toothpaste that contains a whitening ingredient, like hydrogen peroxide. You can use a whitening toothpaste every day for continuous whitening that becomes part of your oral care routine—no extra steps required. Whitening strips and pens are other options, though you should consult with your oral care professional to ensure that this is the safest method for your needs. While these methods won’t be as quick as an in-office treatment, you can take comfort in knowing that they’re safe. But before you go ahead and choose an at-home whitening option, talk to your oral care provider first, and together you can determine the best (and safest) method.
The next time you notice an advertisement or celebrity endorsement for a teeth whitening UV light kit, remember to take it with a grain of salt. With the right at-home treatment or even a treatment via your oral care provider, you can get the star power smile without the risk.