The Pros and Cons of Laser Teeth Whitening

Laser Whitening Ask most people to name an aspect of their appearance they would like to improve and you’ll probably hear a whiter smile at the top of many lists. Even though tooth enamel starts off clear, a lifetime of consuming teeth staining foods and drink can dull even the brightest smiles. Fortunately, a variety of at home and professional options exist that enable consumers to whiten their smiles quickly and conveniently.

When it comes to selecting a tooth whitening procedure that best suits your needs, you should consider such factors as affordability, safety, comfort, effectiveness, and duration prior to making a decision. While do-it-yourself home whitening kits offer a combination of affordability and convenience, they don’t always provide the type of stunning results offered by professional whitening services performed at most dentist’s offices.

Currently, laser teeth whitening ranks as the most advanced way for dental patients to brighten their smile. Due to the many advantages laser whitening has to offer, the procedure has gained in popularity in recent years. However, it’s important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of the procedure before you decide if laser whitening is right for you.

How Laser Whitening Works

As with all whitening procedures, laser whitening uses a special solution designed to eliminate stains from tooth enamel. At the beginning of the procedure, your dentist will place a protective barrier over your gums to prevent any damage from the whitening solution.

Once your gums are fully protected, the dentist will then apply the solution to the front of your teeth. A pen like laser is then used to activate the compound, causing the solution foam as it begins to lift the stains from your teeth. After a few minutes, the dentist will rinse the solution from your teeth before reapplying a second treatment. Depending on the severity of the stains, a third and final treatment may be used to finish the treatment.

Advantages of Laser Whitening

When compared to over-the-counter teeth whitening products, laser whitening has several advantages, including:

Effectiveness

Most over-the-counter whitening products contain a peroxide-based bleaching agent similar to the compound used during a laser whitening procedure. However, store bought compounds are never as potent or as effective as those used under the supervision of a dentist. The compound used in laser whitening procedures also has the advantage of lasting longer than over-the-counter alternatives. A study conducted by the University of Maryland Medical Center found that the effects of laser whitening treatments last up to five years, while over-the-counter options last between six months to a year.

Quicker Results

Laser whitening treatments can make an immediate and noticeable difference on the color of your teeth after just one, hour-long session. Over-the-counter whitening treatments take anywhere between a few days and a couple of weeks before they make a noticeable improvement on tooth color, and need to be applied daily.

Less Damage

As mentioned previously, over-the-counter whiten products contain a peroxide-based bleaching agent that offers the potential of causing damage to the health of your teeth and gums. Unlike a laser procedure, during which your gums are shielded, at home whitening exposes your gums to the peroxide, which can cause gum irritation and tooth sensitivity. Excessive or frequent use of whitening peroxide can also weaken tooth enamel, leaving your teeth more susceptible to decay.

Disadvantages of Laser Whitening

Cost

The biggest obstacle against laser whitening is cost. Unlike at-home whitening products, which cost anywhere between $5 and $30, the average cost of laser whitening treatment generally runs around $1,000. Considering that most dental insurance plans don’t cover the cost of this kind of treatment, most patients have no choice but to pay out of pocket if they want to undergo the procedure.

Tooth Sensitivity

Due to the potent nature of the compound used in the procedure, many patients report tooth sensitivity follow laser whitening treatment. While this sensitivity usually only lasts for a few days, it may cause some patients to reconsider the treatment. However, your dentist can suggest special toothpastes to help alleviate this symptom following a procedure.

Feeling Self-Conscious

Laser teeth whitening offers patients a distinct and noticeable difference in the color of their smile. Depending on the color of your teeth prior, you may experience comments from others wondering how you were able to achieve such a bright smile. While this might seem like a welcome compliment to some, others might feel self-conscious about undergoing a cosmetic procedure and shy away the extra attention they receive.

A freelance writer, Timothy Lemke regularly contributes to the blog of Dr. Jason Peacock, a Tumwater, WA dentist at Smiles Dental.

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