If your once glistening teeth have become dull with age, you’re not alone. Tooth enamel becomes porous over time, and can also be damaged from medication, illness, infection, and tooth trauma4. As your teeth become peppered with tiny holes, staining drinks such as tea, coffee, and red wine can seep into them, and refuse to be brushed away.

Thankfully, there’s a solution to restore your teeth to their former glory: laser teeth whitening. In this article, we’ll explore teeth whitening options, the typical procedure for teeth whitening, the cost, safety, and pros and cons. 

Teeth whitening options

There’s three main teeth whitening options: professional laser teeth whitening, take-home teeth whitening trays, and self-applied teeth whitening kits.

Professional laser teeth whitening

Professional laser teeth whitening works by applying a bleach solution (usually carbamide peroxide) to your teeth, which seeps into each tooth’s microscopic holes, as well as covering its outer layer. The bleach removes stains with a chemical reaction that lifts oxygen ions from the teeth, which carry the staining molecules with them. Once the bleach has been applied, this process is accelerated by shining a laser on each tooth.

Before the whitening process starts, the dentist will clean your teeth, and check you have any cavities that might affect the treatment. Depending on the sensitivity of your teeth, they might also prescribe an anti-inflammatory medication.

For the whitening process itself, the dentist will apply a whitening bleach compound to your teeth, and activate the compound for each tooth using a laser. You’ll be wearing a barrier to protect your gums during this procedure1.

Take-home teeth whitening trays

If you’d rather avoid professional laser treatment, your dentist might offer take-home teeth whitening trays instead. These are custom-fitted trays for your teeth, and contain enough chemical compound to produce a good whitening effect3.

Self-applied teeth whitening kit

Store-bought teeth whitening kits tend to use one of two ingredients to whiten teeth: hydrogen peroxide, or carbamide peroxide. These work similarly to the compounds used by professional dentists, removing stains through chemical reaction.

The process works by applying strips to your teeth for up to an hour a day, before removing. 

Because teeth whitening kits only contain a small amount of chemical, their efficacy is questionable.2

Teeth whitening cost

Cost is important for any non-essential cosmetic procedure, and teeth whitening no exception. Here’s a rough estimate of teeth whitening cost, based on type:

  • Professional teeth whitening—$800+
  • Take-home trays—$350 to $500
  • Teeth whitening kit—$5 to $60

Is teeth whitening safe?

Professional teeth whitening is administered by a trained dentist who understands the process and amount of chemicals to use. For this reason, it’s a safe way to whiten your teeth. The same goes for teeth whitening trays administered by your dentist—provided you follow the instructions carefully, the process is safe.

Over the counter teeth whitening kits are also considered safe, although not always recommended by dentists due to their effectiveness4.

When considering any treatment, it’s important to consider the side effects. For teeth whitening, side effects include:

  • Teeth sensitivity—teeth whitening can cause your teeth to be more sensitive, but tends to diminish over time. Your dentist might recommend a particular toothpaste to combat this.
  • Irritated gums—if the tooth whitening product touches your gums, they may become irritated, but the effect doesn’t last for long.

Laser teeth whitening pros and cons

Pros

Cons

By creating a whiter smile, teeth whitening can improve your confidence, and make you less worried about smiling.Professional teeth whitening can be expensive, starting at around $800
Before completing teeth whitening, a dentist will remove the plaque and tartar from your teeth, making them healthier.The barrier used to protect your gums during professional teeth cleaning can be a little uncomfortable
Your teeth will remain nice and bright for up to a yearYou teeth may feel a little sensitive after the session
It’s a quick process, only taking around an hour to complete.You may need to visit the dentist multiple times to complete the process
You’ll probably be more attractive to your partner, or a future partner!

If your formerly-shimmering teeth are losing their lustre, laser teeth whitening is a great way to get their shine back. By using a peroxide solution to lift stains from your teeth, and speeding up the process with lasers, dentists have access to an effective teeth whitening method that lasts.

References

  1. Laser Teeth Whitening: How Does It Work?, Dental.net
  2. Lisa Bowman, 2019, Do home teeth whitening kits work and are they safe?, Metro
  3. Lydia Hart, 2019, How Much Does Professional Teeth Whitening Cost?, Canstar
  4. Teeth Whitening Options and Safety, Healthline