According to the NHS, more and more people are getting their teeth whitened. Laser teeth whitening is a popular cosmetic dental procedure that provides a marked improvement in brightness. It can be expensive, up to £700 for the whitening treatment, but a confident smile might be worth the cost. If you're interested in a laser option for brighter teeth, here's what you should know.
How It Works
Teeth whitening using a laser is an effective way to reduce stains. In fact, the NHS says that laser-activated teeth whitening can make your teeth several shades brighter in about an hour. Here's what to expect on the day of the procedure:
- Using a shade indicator, your dentist will determine the colour and shade of your existing teeth. A picture will be taken of your teeth so that you can see the difference after the procedure is complete.
- The dentist will line your lips with a protective SPF lotion that contains moisturisers. A cheek retractor is inserted into the mouth to keep it open during the procedure. After the mouth is open, cotton rolls are placed under the lips to keep the area dry, and either a rubber dam or a protective coating is placed over the gums to protect your mouth and gums from the bleaching gel, which can cause irritation in the oral cavity. You'll also wear protective eyewear to protect your eyes from the laser.
- The dentist will then apply a bleaching gel to the front of your teeth. According to Bupa, the gel usually contains either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, which releases oxygen onto the surface of your teeth and whitens them.
- Next, your dentist may use a bleaching light or laser. Once switched on, this light will shine directly on the teeth to activate the bleaching process. The light from the laser shines on all the teeth at once and does not move. Patients must sit still in a reclined position in the dental chair to ensure the laser shines evenly on all exposed teeth. Some whitening systems consist of a series of three, 15-minute sessions conducted in one sitting. Between each session, the dentist will check the gauze and the liquid dam materials to ensure that the soft tissues of the mouth are isolated from the bleaching solution.
- After the whitening session is completed, the solution will be suctioned or rinsed off. The protective materials will be removed, and the teeth and gums will be rinsed and suctioned again. After laser teeth whitening, the pores of enamel are opened and more susceptible to absorbing stains for about two days. During this time, patients should avoid using or consuming anything that can stain teeth, including lipstick, coffee, and fizzy drinks. Laser teeth whitening removes a substance from teeth called the acquired pellicle, which forms from your saliva. It takes up to 24 hours for this layer to develop again, so you should avoid foods that stain your teeth during this time.
- You should talk to your dentist if you have sensitive teeth because the whitening process can increase sensitivity. In many cases, sensitivity diminishes a few days after treatment, but your dentist can advise if the procedure is suitable for you.
Keeping Your Teeth Bright After Laser Whitening
Laser whitening doesn't stop your teeth from being susceptible to staining. Professional teeth whitening can last from six months to two years, depending on lifestyle factors, and repeated exposure to dark-coloured food and drink can cause extrinsic tooth staining over time.
You can protect your new teeth whiteness by drinking with a straw to reduce the effect of staining from beverages. Be sure to visit your dentist for regular checkups and cleaning, and you can also use a whitening toothpaste to help whiten and protect teeth.
Now that you know the details of laser whitening, you can better determine if laser whitening is right for you. Your dentist can also help you evaluate your options.