couple smiling after UV teeth whitening procedure

Is UV Teeth Whitening Safe?

If you're on social media, the posts are hard to miss: Your favorite celebs claiming to maintain their perfectly white smiles with the help of a handy blue light. In fact, they might even post pictures of that blue light applied to their teeth, supposedly expediting the whitening process. But how safe is UV teeth whitening? As it turns out, other at-home products are safer, easier and effective. Make sure you understand the facts before you attempt to use UV rays for a whiter smile.

How It Works

UV whitening kits are all the rage, but what the posts never explain is how the kits actually work. Most kits contain a peroxide-based whitening gel along with a blue UV light. The gel is meant to be applied to the teeth and then exposed to the UV light, which supposedly activates the peroxide and expedites the whitening process. There is little research to prove that a UV light can make whitening gel faster and more effective, according to the American Dental Association (ADA).

A study published by the Journal of Dentistry concludes that a light-activated in-office system partnered with a high concentration of hydrogen peroxide did not accelerate whitening and lead to tooth sensitivity. If lights operated by professionals are ineffective, how good can a DIY kit from the drug store be?

Ease and Safety

One of the major issues 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, but it's not an exact science. 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. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has logged complaints of burns from UV-based whitening kits.

These kits are often marketed to seem deceptively simple. But the ADA notes that the only person qualified to use UV lights as a whitening agent is your dentist. If you do choose to use this type of whitening, it's best to have it professionally done, since your dentist has been trained in whitening gel application and the use and timing of the UV light.

Teeth Whitening Alternatives

If you want to whiten at home, your best bet is to choose a toothpaste that contains a whitening ingredient, such as Colgate Optic White High Impact White. It's enamel-safe whitening, that's good for daily use for four shades visibly whiter teeth. While it might not be as quick as an in-office treatment, you can take comfort in knowing that it's safe. What's more, you can use a whitening toothpaste every day for continuous whitening that simply becomes part of your oral care routine, no extra steps required.

The next time you noticed a social media star's blue light testimonial, remember to take it with a grain of salt. With the right at-home treatment, you can get the star power smile without the risk or extra steps.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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