Laser teeth whitening (also known as light-activated teeth whitening) is one of the newest – and more expensive – methods available for teeth whitening. Laser treatment involves using a beam of special laser light on the desired areas of the mouth. Laser teeth whitening is popular because the procedure only takes an hour, and results can be seen instantly. The treatment begins by using bleaching agents like hydrogen peroxide gel or carbamide peroxide gel on the tooth enamel. The gel is then activated using a controlled laser light. The result is a faster, more effective procedure with results of up to a 10 shade improvement.
Below are the top three laser/light-activated teeth whitening procedures available on the market:
Zoom –The Zoom tooth whitening system by Discus Dental Inc. is very popular – thanks to aggressive marketing and a nationwide network of participating dentists. Their hydrogen peroxide based method has a 32% hydrogen peroxide gel and an activator. The gel is mixed with the activator to form a bleaching system of 25% hydrogen peroxide with a pH of 7.5 to 8.5. The system uses a mercury metal halide light within the range of 350-400nm.
BriteSmile – BriteSmile is another popular teeth whitening system. The BriteSmile treatment features the BriteSmile Procedural Gel. The pre-packaged hydrogen peroxide compound with a 15% hydrogen peroxide concentration and a pH of 6.5 comes in a ready-to-use formulation. An ‘accelerator’ is also used during the second and third procedure to increase the effectiveness of the whitener. The light used is either a gas plasma or LED (light emitting diode) bleaching light with a wavelength between 400 and 500nm.
Saphhire – The Sapphire Whitening system is made by Den-Mat – the people behind Lumineers and is only available at dental offices. This system uses a very powerful Sapphire Plasma Arc Light along with Sapphire Whitening Gel. According to Den-Mat, the light assists the bleaching process in two ways. Sapphire’s bleach formulation absorbs light in the blue end of the spectrum, which becomes excited and decomposes into reactive intermediators that attack the colored compounds that form stains on teeth. In addition, the absorption of blue light serves to activate the colored stain materials absorbed on the teeth.
There are two schools of thoughts on light-activated whitening. Some studies show that it works and some do not. Many respected researchers in dentistry, including CRA (Clinical Research Associates), have performed split-arch, showing that bleaching lights are of no benefit. A split-arch study is when you do one treatment on the left side of a patient’s mouth and another treatment (or no treatment) on their right side. In this particular CRA study, bleaching gels were placed on both sides of a patient’s mouth, but only one side was exposed to a bleaching light. The result? No difference from right side to left side. The study showed that it was only bleaching gel that caused the whitening. However, there are studies out there by credible institutions that show laser whitening does actually work.