How Does LED Teeth Whitening Work?
Did you know that you could have your smile brightened about 5-10 shades in as little as 20 minutes? Not only that, but professional teeth whitening procedures are also needle-free and don’t require the use of a dental drill. Instead, the process is as simple as placing the whitening agent, applying an LED light, and letting it sit.
Sound too good to be true? Well, this is one rare instance where that is not the case. Modern technology has actually made it possible to have a whiter and brighter smile quickly and easily. And, yes, the light does indeed play a role in the accelerated whitening process. However, simply smiling at an LED light will not whiten your teeth. To understand how LED lights play a role in the whitening process, you must first understand the basics of how teeth whitening works.
What are the basics of teeth whitening?
When you visit your local dental office to have your teeth professionally whitened, your teeth will first be cleaned to ensure that the whitener can be evenly applied to the surface of your teeth. You will also be given special tools used to hold your mouth open and protect the soft tissues of your mouth during the whitening procedure. Once applied to your teeth, the whitening gel will remain in place for about 20 minutes.
Since teeth are porous, the whitening gel is absorbed by the enamel and dentin layers of the tooth. The active ingredient in whitening gels is hydrogen peroxide, which removes stains and is then safely absorbed by the body. Most over the counter whitening products use low concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, while cosmetic dentists use higher concentrations to get faster, more effective results.
This is because when applied to the teeth, hydrogen peroxide acts as a catalyst for an oxidation reaction to occur. The oxidation reaction breaks down the molecular bonds of discolored molecules, causing the stains to vanish. In simpler terms, hydrogen peroxide dissolves stains from the enamel and dentin layers in order to whiten the teeth. Even though the whitening gel is only on your teeth for a limited amount of time, it will remain effective for the first 24 hours after application.
So, how do LED lights help?
At this point, you are probably wondering how an LED light can help this process along. An LED, or light-emitting diode, releases a single color of light on the visible light spectrum when exposed to electricity. In the past UV, or ultraviolet light, was used to aid in the whitening process. However, UV light has been found to cause cell mutations that can lead to cancer.
Therefore, LED lights quickly replaced UV lights for whitening procedures. LED lights require minimal power, are long-lasting, and do not require a warming up period to be effective. Although their light is more intense than other types of light, they are also much cooler due to their ability to dissipate heat. All these things make them an ideal light for teeth whitening.
LED lights are used in teeth whitening procedures for one key reason: research has shown they speed up the chemical reactions that remove the stains from teeth. As mentioned before, whitening agents are effective for 24 hours. Therefore, speeding up the chemical reactions simply means that more stains can be removed during this time period. Ultimately, the more stains that are removed, the brighter your smile will be. On average, LED teeth whitening can lighten your smile 6-8 shades during a single whitening session.
Overall, the addition of LED lights to whitening procedures has improved the effectiveness of whitening agents, allowing for brighter and whiter smiles. Nevertheless, it is the whitening agent that remains the key element of whitening treatment. Although results cannot be achieved with an LED light alone, phenomenal results are produced when used with whitening gels.
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