Although we are all born with healthy looking, bright teeth, as we age discolouration can occur and our teeth can become lacklustre and dull in appearance. In the quest to restore a healthier looking smile, more and more people are turning to professional teeth whitening treatments. Currently there are several methods available to suit every budget and time frame, and laser teeth whitening in particular is becoming increasingly popular.
Laser teeth whitening (also known as \'power whitening\') is a laser accelerating bleaching technology where a bleaching gel is painted onto the teeth and a light or laser is shone on to the gel to activate the whitening process. Laser teeth whitening tends to be a short procedure that lasts around an hour, and typically only one treatment is needed to achieve the desired effects.
Why do teeth need whitening?
There are a number reasons why people choose to have their teeth whitened, but the most common reason is because of age-related discolouration and deterioration of the enamel. Designed to protect teeth from the effects of chewing, trauma and acid attacks caused by sugar, the enamel is bound to discolour over the years. Our diets and other habits such as smoking can also affect the appearance of our teeth, as can nerve problems, disease and old fillings. Tartar (a hard deposit that forms on teeth and causes decay) further speeds up the deterioration of the enamel, and with the added possibility of cracks and stains, it\'s understandable why people turn to laser teeth whitening to restore a healthier looking smile.
What does laser teeth whitening involve?
Laser teeth whitening is one of the quickest and most effective ways of brightening teeth, as it only involves one simple session. Your dentist will begin the treatment by applying a special cream or gel to the lips and gums to protect them from the laser. Next they will prepare your teeth with a whitening gel made from a hydrogen peroxide solution. This is what whitens the teeth when the strong light of the laser is applied.
Typically the laser is activated for 15 minutes at a time - bleaching the stain particles trapped in the surface of the tooth enamel. This pain-free procedure is repeated two or three times depending on the condition of your teeth and the results you are looking for. The treatment will finish off with a mouth clean to ensure all of the gel is removed and your dentist will advise you on how to maintain your brighter smile. If you look after your teeth and follow the recommendations of your dentist, the effects of laser teeth whitening can last for several years.
What are the side effects of laser teeth whitening?
Although some people may experience gum irritation or sensitivity in their teeth in the 48 hours following treatment, there are virtually no laser teeth whitening side effects. The treatment has been scientifically proven as one of the safest methods of whitening teeth - especially when carried out by a professional dentist.
Before you start any laser teeth whitening treatment, your dentist will conduct an examination to ensure you are suitable. If you have problems with your teeth such as gum disease or crowns, your dentist may advise you not to have the treatment, as the risks of teeth sensitivity and gum irritation tend to be higher.
What about teeth bleaching kits?
The popularity of over-the-counter teeth bleaching kits is no doubt due to their convenience and cheaper price. However forgoing professional teeth whitening for a DIY treatment kit can bring more risks and the results are unlikely to be as effective or as long-lasting. Some home whitening kits for example, do not contain enough of the teeth bleaching gel while others may be more acidic. This could cause severe damage to your teeth and gums. In Europe, regulations restrict the amount of peroxide that can be used in teeth bleaching kits, but there is no guarantee kits available to buy online adhere to these standards. To avoid risking your oral health, make sure you choose a qualified professional who will be able to carry out laser teeth whitening safely and effectively.
What to look for when choosing a laser teeth whitening professional
Laser teeth whitening should only be performed by a regulated dental professional, such as a dentist, a dental hygienist or a dental therapist on the prescription of a dentist. It is illegal for anyone to laser teeth without the presence of a dental professional. You can find out more about the specific training and qualifications required by visiting the General Dental Council.
Keeping your teeth white following laser treatment
If you are considering laser teeth whitening and would like to maintain the effects for as long as possible, we recommend the following:
- Avoid consuming drinks that will stain your teeth, such as tea, coffee and red wine. If you do drink them, use a straw so the liquid does not come into contact with your front teeth.
- Stick to a regular brushing and flossing routine to ensure your mouth stays as clean and stain-free as possible. Using a toothpaste that protects against yellowing can be helpful.
- Quit smoking.
- Change your toothbrush every couple of months.
- Clean your tongue while brushing.
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