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At-Home LED Whitening Not the Brightest Idea

LED home teeth whitening kits are getting a lot of buzz from celebrities on social media sites and showing up as sponsored ads on Instagram and Facebook. Worse yet, when you google these devices, most of what you see are paid (read: biased) reviews from popular bloggers that don’t mention anything about the safety or drawbacks of these products. If you’re considering investing in a whitening kit, here are some things to consider.

First and Foremost: Are Home Whitening Kits Safe?

Quick answer: Yes. Sort of. The LED light used in at-home whitening kits is safe to use at home, because the light in the home device is not bright enough to burn the teeth or gums or do any damage. The whitening agent in at-home kits is safe, too- provided you follow the instructions and be careful to apply the agent only to the teeth. Avoid getting it on your gums, as this can cause increased sensitivity. Keep in mind that you may still experience sensitive teeth and/or gums for several days or up to a week following treatment. This is normal.

Do Home Kits Work?

Yes and no. Yes, the whitening agent used in home-based whitening kits is effective at whitening teeth- however, it is not as good as the active ingredients that you’d use at the dentist’s office, so your results will not be as good as if you’d invested in a service like Zoom whitening. As for the LED device, you can skip that entirely. Not only is it expensive, but it's also a huge waste of money. The LED light in home-based kits isn’t bright enough to do any damage, but it’s also not bright enough to have any real effects on your whitening, either. You may see an initial change in tooth color, but the results you’ll see are due to the peroxide gel used in the kit- not the light.

So, Should I Just Toss My UV Light?

There’s nothing wrong with using your UV based whitening kit if you are happy with the results. UV lights have been found to make results look slightly brighter for a day or so after using the LED device, but that glow doesn’t stick around. The only real way to get results at home is the whitening agent included in the kit- and time. When used regularly, these kits can make a big impact on your teeth- no light required. They may not be as effective as a medical grade whitening procedure like the Zoom whitening system used at your dentist’s office, but they are still more effective than whitening toothpaste alone.

If you do decide to go the home kit route, here are a few reminders to keep in mind before beginning your treatment.

  • If you have veneers or crowns, they cannot be whitened. These kits will not change the color of the porcelain used in these products. If you are unhappy with the color of your veneers or crowns, speak to your dentist about getting them replaced.
  • Your results will not last forever. Yes, the whitening is permanent, but as soon as you take a sip of coffee, the darkening process begins again. Over time, your teeth will yellow with age- which means you will need to repeat the whitening procedure again to keep your teeth their whitest.
  • The higher the concentration of the gel does not equal the better. You can actually achieve better results from a high quality, lower concentrated gel. Your teeth will look brighter, longer, and you will reduce your risk of discomfort from using a stronger gel.
  • Don’t buy kits from ads on Instagram. If you want at-home whitening, speak to your dentist about being fitted for custom trays, or for a recommendation for an at-home kit that is ADA and FDA approved.
  • NEVER use whitening kits on children. The active ingredients in these kits can damage the live tissue in young teeth. Whitening should only be done once all baby teeth are lost, and your child has a full set of adult teeth- and even then, whitening should only be done under the care of a dentist.

If you have any other questions about home whitening kits or are interested in seeing if you’d be a good candidate for the Zoom whitening system available at Dr. Stephen Hill’s office, give us a call at 469-640-9550.

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