According to a survey by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), most people wish their teeth were whiter. Laser teeth whitening is a popular cosmetic dental procedure that shows a marked improvement in brightness. It can be expensive, up to $800 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 AACD says that laser-activated teeth whitening can make your teeth up to 10 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 color 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 moisturizers. 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 a pair of protective eye wear to protect your eyes from the laser.
- The dentist will then apply a bleaching gel to the front of your teeth. According to Your Dentistry Guide, the gel contains hydrogen peroxide as well as thickening agents to help keep the solution on the surfaces of teeth.
- 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 a reclined position in the dental chair to ensure the laser shines on all exposed teeth evenly. 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 consuming anything that can stain teeth, including lipstick, coffee, and soda. Laser teeth whitening removes a substance from teeth called the acquired pellicle, which forms from your saliva. It takes a 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 whitening process can increase sensitivity. In many cases, sensitivity diminishes a few days after treatment, but your dentist can advise if procedure is suitable for you.
Keeping Your Teeth Bright After Laser Whitening
Laser whitening doesn't stop your teeth from being susceptible to staining. According to the AACD, professional teeth whitening can last six months to two years, depending on lifestyle factors, and repeated exposure to dark-colored beverages and foods 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 beverages. Be sure to visit your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings, and you can also use a whitening toothpaste such as Colgate® Optic White® toothpaste, which helps whiten and protect teeth with WhiteSeal™ technology.
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.