Everyone deserves to have a beautiful, confident, and healthy smile, so it’s no wonder that there are so many at-home products on the market that help you combat yellow or stained teeth to achieve a brilliant sparkle. One teeth whitening product in particular has gained attention in the past decade among celebrities and social media influencers; it’s a bit more high-tech and a bit more expensive than the regular options: an at-home UV teeth whitening kit. Here, we’ve laid out a few facts on the safety and effectiveness of this type of product, so you can understand how it works before considering it as an option for a whiter smile.
Is UV Teeth Whitening Safe?
UV teeth whitening kits are similar to a regular in-office teeth whitening treatment, which involves a dental professional applying a peroxide-based whitening gel to your teeth and placing a blue UV light over them. Together, the gel and light create a system that can expedite the teeth whitening process. The South African Dental Association (SADA) confirms that the addition of heat or light may improve the diffusion of hydrogen peroxide. And these in-office treatments are effective. In a study published in the Journal of Conservative Dentistry, a peer-reviewed medical journal published on behalf of the Federation of Operative Dentistry (India), light-activated bleaching produced a lighter shade than bleaching done without light. Further, the light-activated process lasted longer.
An at-home kit functions similarly and typically instructs you to apply a whitening gel to your teeth with a pen and then use a portable LED light over your teeth for a few minutes over a period of days. These kits often come with a higher price tag than other at-home whitening solutions, like whitening toothpaste or strips.
You might be wondering: is UV teeth whitening safe? While the American Dental Association (ADA) does mention that in-office light-activated treatments are an option you could consider for teeth whitening, they do not mention at-home UV light kits as a recommended option. The ADA also notes that tooth sensitivity may be associated with this process when done at the dentist’s office.
According to the Oral Health Foundation based in the United Kingdom, regulations on these kits vary from country to country. For instance, kits in Europe may not legally contain more than 0.1% peroxide, whereas other countries allow for stronger amounts. Plus, some kits sold over the internet may contain extra ingredients that could be potentially harmful.
Colgate® Optic White® Overnight Whitening PenA teeth whitening pen with an enamel safe whitening serum formula designed for no tooth sensitivity.
To answer the initial question on safety: it is unclear. As such, you should avoid using UV light kits at home, as the research isn’t definitive enough to confirm that it’s safe. Plus, the ADA has not approved this kind of therapy.
Another potential issue 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, and without the consultation of a dentist, you may not know your threshold for sensitivity. 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.
If you’ve experienced any injury from a UV whitening kit, don’t panic – your oral health care provider will know what to do. If you’re injured, contact your oral health care provider immediately, and have the kit on hand to provide any information. From there, they will be able to help determine the best treatment.
Luckily, there are plenty of other safe and effective home whitening methods available – and they don’t break the bank, either!
If you want to whiten at home, you’ve got options. One is to choose a toothpaste that contains a whitening ingredient, like hydrogen peroxide. You can use a whitening toothpaste every day for continuous whitening that becomes a part of your oral care routine – no extra steps required. Whitening strips and pens are other options, though you should consult with your oral care professional to ensure that this is the safest method for your needs. While these methods may not be as quick as an in-office treatment, you can take comfort in knowing that they’re safe. Before you go ahead and choose an at-home whitening option, talk to your oral care provider first, and together you can determine the best (and safest) method.
The next time you notice an advertisement or celebrity endorsement for a teeth whitening UV light kit, remember to take it with a grain of salt. With the right at-home treatment or even a treatment via your oral care provider, you can get the star-power smile without the risk.
The above information is provided for informational purposes only. Colgate does not accept any liability should the above recommendations have an outcome contrary to the intended result. Always seek the advice of a qualified doctor or dental professional. Do not disregard professional advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read in this article.