Teeth Whitening

Do teeth whitening lights work?

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Introduction

One of the more popular trends in the at-home teeth whitening market is the use of small mouthpieces with bright blue lights.  You may have seen one or more famous people promoting this type of device in your Instagram feed. The question is: do they actually work?

That is actually a two-sided question, and we will answer each side separately.

Dr. Lara Coseo

Author

Having practiced general dentistry for 13 years, Dr. Lara currently serves as an Associate Professor at Texas A&M College of Dentistry.

Will a Teeth Whitening Kit using a Light Produce Visible Results?

Most likely, yes. The kits we have seen use a high strength carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide whitening gel, and they instruct the user to “wear” the gel under the light for about thirty minutes each day for maximum results. Applying that high strength gel to the teeth will cause a visible whitening result. Carbamide peroxide gels can penetrate tooth enamel to break down darkly colored pigments inside the tooth, thus lightening the overall color of the teeth. This will happen regardless of whether or not you also use a light on the teeth. Which invites the following question . . .

Does the Light Itself Make a Difference?

The jury is still out on this one.
Current research contains many conflicting studies about the effectiveness of using lights on bleaching gel to improve the speed of magnitude of the results.
Some, like this one from 2011, show that activation with an LED light yields significant color change. This study states that light activation does produce a faster and more intense bleaching effect.
On the other hand, multiple studies claim that there is no increased whitening effect through the use of lights, whether they are lasers, halogen lamps, or LEDs. “The use of light activation did not show any advantages compared to chemical bleaching.”1 Researchers here note that the more important aspect of the whitening process is the length of time the gel stays in contact with the teeth. This study showed a higher level of tooth sensitivity when using an LED light.

So What Do Dentists Recommend?

In general, based on the current research, we do not know if lights make a difference in the speed or effectiveness of whitening. We do know that adding heat to any peroxide whitening gel makes it work faster. This means that a heat-generating light will speed up the whitening process. Because LEDs do not produce much heat, if they work at all, it is not through this mechanism. Any high strength peroxide gel will produce whitening results with or without light activation. It is more important to keep the gel in contact with the teeth for the recommended period of time than to add the light.

Editor Picks

Dr. Song Teeth Whitening Kit

The Dr. Song Teeth Whitening kit uses a 35% dental-grade carbamide peroxide whitening gel that is supplied in 3 x 3mL syringes. The kit comes complete with two whitening trays and an LED accelerator light (batteries included). The trays are designed so the light slots securely into the face of the mouthpiece.
Pros:
The trays and lights are well made and robust enough to be re-used many times. The strength of the whitening gel is sufficient to give significant results. Very reasonably priced compared to some of the other options.
Cons:
The instructions are very brief. A little more information would be helpful.

Peroxide: Yes

Strength: 35% Carbamide Peroxide

Accelerator Light included: Yes

Light Type: Blue spectrum LED

Gel Capacity: 9mL

Auraglow Deluxe Teeth whitening kit

The Auraglow deluxe home whitening kit comes with 2 pre-loaded syringes containing 10mL of carbamide peroxide. The mouth trays can be molded to suit the individual’s teeth and allow a more accurate fit. The 5 diode light is designed to clip easily to the mouthpiece and accelerate the teeth bleaching process.
Pros:
The LED accelerator light has a timer to accurately control the duration of each whitening session. The kit comes with a handy storing case. Each kit comes with a full money-back guarantee. The dental-grade carbamide peroxide is capable of producing significant results.
Cons:
One of the more expensive whitening kits.

Peroxide: Yes

Strength: 35% Carbamide Peroxide

Accelerator Light included: Yes

Light Type: Blue spectrum LED

Gel Capacity: 10mL

What do teeth whitening lights cost?

Teeth whitening kits that use accelerator lights can be a cheap but effective way to brighten your teeth. A kit that includes a powerful 35% peroxide bleaching gel will cost between $20 to $50 which is significantly cheaper than professional treatments.

Alternatives To light enabled whitening kits

Teeth whitening has become the most popular dental treatment of choice. There is a great variety of products and methods available to consumers but their effectiveness and safety can vary and some choices, can be questionable at best. Find out which products and whitening method really work.  We have picked out 3 good alternatives to over-the-counter whitening kits below.

In-office whitening

This procedure is done in the dentist’s office and uses the highest possible concentrations of peroxide. This method is a good choice for people who want a convenient solution that delivers immediate results. 

Professional at-home

With this option, the dentist prescribes and dispenses the treatment for the patient to perform in their own time at home. Most dentists agree that this is often the best option in terms of final results.

Whitening pens

Although this method will not give as good results as in-office, professional at-home or OTC whitening kits, it is by far the easiest and mess-free option. Despite their limitations, whitening pens can still deliver pleasing results.

FAQ

Are teeth whitening lights all the same?

All home-use teeth whitening lights are basically the same. They use blue frequency LED’s (light-emitting diodes) to accelerate the process. Some models feature built-in timers to monitor the duration of the session.

The lights used by dentists during professional teeth whitening treatments are different. They can be high-powered LED, Metal Halide or Laser lights.

How much do teeth whitening lights cost?

Light enabled teeth whitening kits that include the whitening gels cost between $20 and $50. A teeth whitening light without a whitening agent will cost between $10 and $20

Will a light whiten teeth by itself?

No! A light can accelerate the whitening process but without the presence of a whitening agent like peroxide, it will have no effect.

Are Teeth whitening lights safe?

The lights that are used with home whitening products are regarded as safe. One study found that blue lighting, combined with peroxide, actually reduced gum inflammation and oral bacteria.

Are peroxide whitening kits safe?

Although peroxide chemicals have been used to whiten teeth for over 100 years, there is still a degree of controversy and confusion over their safety. Research data suggests that there are no significant health risks associated with teeth whitening treatments provided they are monitored by a dentist or qualified health professional. However, over-the-counter whitening kits do have the potential to cause adverse effects if they are used inappropriately, overused or purchased from unreliable sources. It is recommended that you consult your dentist before using an OTC whitening kit and always follow the instructions and use the kit with care.

Article Authors & Contributors

Dr Lara Coseo

Dr Lara Coseo

Author

References

Blue light's effect on gum inflammation.

J. Max Goodson Associate clinical professor of periodontal medicine Forsyth Institute.

Tooth bleaching using peroxide-containing agents: current status of safety issues.

Department of Restorative Dentistry, Loma Linda University School of Dentistry, California, USA.

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Do teeth whitening lights work?
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Do teeth whitening lights work?
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Dr. Lara Coseo reviews research data to see if teeth whitening lights really work.
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Mouthpower.org
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