women smiling after teeth whitening

Is LED Teeth Whitening Right For You?

Nowadays, teeth whitening is the most desired cosmetic dental solution, according to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. The process is minimally invasive and can offer great results. LED teeth whitening is a popular option for achieving a brighter smile, but is it the best at-home treatment for you?

How an LED Whitening System Work

Whitening is any technique that helps your teeth look whiter, says the American Dental Association. There are generally two types of whitening. Bleach-based products remove stains at both a deep and superficial level in your teeth, whereas non-bleaching products use a chemical or physical catalyst and only whiten your teeth at the surface – or extrinsic – level.

An LED (light emitting diode) whitening system is a bleach-based treatment, and home-based kits contain lower concentrations of the bleaching substance than what your dentist offers. An LED whitening system typically includes several applications of a whitening agent, applicators, mouth trays and LED light for treatments over a period of days. Light is thought to speed up the whitening process, says The Open Dentistry Journal (ODJ). It acts as a catalyst on carbamide peroxide, which becomes hydrogen peroxide, the bleaching agent that whitens your teeth.

Safety and LED Teeth Whitening Systems

Whether you opt for an LED whitening system or other home-based whitening products, you'll want to be clear on your level of sensitivity to the concentration of bleaching agent. Keep in mind, sensitivity differs from person to person and with any bleaching system, there can be some level of sensitivity.

In addition to tooth sensitivity, a 2015 abstract cites a study that looked at cold-light activated bleaching treatments to investigate the concern that heat (infrared) or ultraviolet light exposure might damage teeth during office whitening treatments. The study concluded that cold light, such as that from an LED, does not change the tooth structure, which is good news for people worried about damage to their teeth.

LED Whitening Systems vs. Other At-Home Treatments

To determine the best whitening system for you, it's helpful to understand how LED whitening holds up to other home whitening products. The ODJ study concludes that results depend on the degree of discoloration prior to treatment, the amount of activating gel used, and the duration of treatment. Overall, subjects achieved better results from in-office LED whitening and more modest results with their at-home treatment.

Whitening products without bleach only lighten the surface of your teeth. Toothpastes, for example, serve as a mild abrasive to help remove stains, and whitening pastes are more effective at removing stains. But on the whole, at-home products that are bleach-based have been shown to lighten teeth by five to seven shades. So, it's beneficial to continue daily use of a whitening toothpaste, too.

Whitening Is Not a Substitute for Regular Oral Care

An LED whitening system is one way to achieve the striking smile you're after. And you can try it at home with at-home systems, such as Colgate® Optic White™ Advanced LED Whitening, that can deliver whiter teeth by up to six shades in 10 days. Keep in mind, if you're not taking daily care of your teeth, no amount of home whitening is going to keep your teeth healthy. Daily brushing and flossing not only maintain your oral health, but help keep your smile bright.

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