While it's not plastic surgery, laser teeth whitening is considered a cosmetic dental procedure that shows significant improvement to your teeth' brightness — up to 10 shades brighter. Bleach is applied to each tooth while a laser generates heat that enhances its effectiveness, which ultimately speeds up the process, leading to quick, dramatic results.
Is Laser Teeth Whitening an Option For You?
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It's not a long process, but it is precise. Check out the step-by-step breakdown below:
- The color and shade of your existing teeth are determined using a shade indicator.
- A picture of your teeth is taken to see a before/after comparison.
- Your lips are coated with a protective SPF lotion containing moisturizers.
- A cheek retractor is inserted into the mouth, and cotton rolls are placed under the lips.
- A protective coating is placed over the gums to protect your mouth and gums from the bleaching gel.
- A bleaching gel consisting of hydrogen peroxide and thickening agents is applied to the front of your teeth to keep the solution on the surfaces of your teeth.
- Patients must sit still as a bleaching light or laser will shine onto the teeth to activate the bleaching process.
- Some whitening systems consist of three 15-minute sessions in one sitting.
- The gauze and the liquid dam materials will be monitored between sessions to ensure that the mouth's soft tissues are safe and dry.
- After the treatment, avoid certain food and drinks for a few days as the pores of enamel are more susceptible to absorbing stains (lipstick, coffee, soda, etc.) and sensitive to cold food items (ice cream, cold beverages, etc.)
Most agree that laser teeth whitening is the most effective whitening treatment. And with that comes cost. Here are the associated costs you can expect when going the laser route:
- Financial: Chances are you'll be paying for it out-of-pocket since most dental insurance plans don't cover it — as a typical procedure costs approximately $1,000
- Time: Here's where you can make up for the price as nearly every procedure takes just an hour to complete
There's no doubt that laser teeth whitening is the most expensive of all teeth whitening options, but for a good reason. It's quick and effective results are a combination that's tough to beat.
You got your teeth laser whitened. You love it. But according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, professional teeth whitening can last six months to two years. So how do you keep those pearly whites so white? Here are a few specific things you can do to maintain your new bright smile:
- Avoid dark-colored beverages and foods that cause staining over time
- Drink with a straw to reduce the effect of staining beverages
- Brush with whitening toothpaste to help whiten and protect your teeth
- Visit your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings
- Schedule a follow-up treatment every six months if necessary
Perhaps you prefer passing on the laser in your mouth option. There's a variety of options to choose from. There are two categories for non-laser whitening: over-the-counter (OTC) products or professional systems. The latter can be applied either at home or in-office and achieve better results than OTC due to higher percentages of the bleaching agent and their application method. OTC products come in a variety of forms:
- Toothpaste and rinses
- Gel used in trays
- Whitening strips
- Whitening chewing gum
- Whitening paint-on gel
Here are a few more things to keep in mind when considering laser teeth whitening:
- Your dentist will determine if you're a viable candidate for the procedure
- Multiple treatments may be required for your desired results
- At-home bleaching trays may be required for your desired results
- Approved by the FDA
- ADA has not provided a Seal of Acceptance for safety and efficacy — but they are cautiously optimistic about the role of laser dentistry in the future for dental procedures, including teeth whitening
That concludes Laser Teeth Whitening 101. If you have any questions or want to see if you're a candidate for the procedure, contact your dentist today.