Can Laser Whitening Damage Your Teeth?

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Medically reviewed by Danielle Romatz, RDH

Laser teeth whitening has gained a tremendous amount of popularity over the years. The procedure uses the combination of a high-quality bleaching gel and a laser to remove the stains from your teeth. But is this procedure safe for most people, or should you avoid it altogether?

Generally speaking, laser teeth whitening is safe for your teeth. The American Dental Association backs this procedure, confirming it’s effective and convenient. However, the process can lead to sensitive gums and teeth. Speak with your dentist to determine if this procedure is right for you.

It can be challenging to determine the best whitening procedure with all the different options out there. Not everyone is comfortable with a high-powered laser pointed at their teeth. So what do you need to know about laser teeth whitening and the alternatives? Let’s take a look.

Is Laser Whitening Safe for Your Teeth?

Laser tooth whitening

Generally speaking, laser teeth whitening is safe for your teeth. The American Dental Association (ADA) claims that the process is safe and effective. However, the process must be done in a dentist’s office by a certified professional.

The dentist will protect your gums, lips, and other soft-tissue before beginning the process.

Can Laser Whitening Have Side Effects?

Like most medical procedures, laser teeth whitening can have some side effects. The side effects from laser teeth whitening aren’t very common and are unlikely to cause adverse health effects. However, there are a few risks and precautions you should be aware of.

Go With a Trusted Professional

Laser teeth whitening uses a gel with high concentrations of a bleaching ingredient, usually carbamide peroxide. If misapplied, the high amounts of the whitening agent can burn the soft tissues of your mouth, including the gums, lips, and tongue.

Your dentist will use special tools and apply a protective layer to sensitive areas areas to avoid this. Because of these risks, it’s crucial to have this procedure done by a trusted professional.

You May Experience Sensitivity and Discomfort

The most commonly reported side effects of laser teeth whitening are increased sensitivity, irritation, and general discomfort. Many patients experience ‘zingers,’ a short-lasting shock or sharp sensation throughout the teeth.

Zingers occur randomly and can appear around 24-36 hours after the initial procedure. Although most of these side effects aren’t severe, it’s essential to consult your dentist before beginning.

How Often Can You Laser Whiten Teeth?

With proper oral maintenance, the effects of laser teeth whitening can last up to 6 months or longer. However, you may be wondering how soon you can get a touch-up or an entirely new procedure.

Generally speaking, it’s safe to receive a touch-up or new procedure after four to six months. That being said, your dentist will check the health of your teeth and enamel before scheduling the next appointment.

If your teeth aren’t ready or you’re experiencing sensitivity, your dentist may have you wait a bit longer.

Your dentist may recommend a different procedure or avoid whitening together if you’re no longer a good candidate for laser teeth whitening.

Is Laser Whitening Safer Than Whitening Trays?

Young woman getting dental treatment

Having a laser burn away the stains on your teeth may not be for everyone. In fact, you may be wondering if there are safer and more effective options. That’s where procedures like teeth whitening trays come into play.

Both methods of teeth whitening are effective options. However, teeth whitening trays may be safer and less intensive than lasers.

Laser teeth whitening is seen as a safe procedure by the ADA, though it’s much more likely that your teeth will develop sensitivity over time with laser whitening.

Laser teeth whitening is also much more expensive than professional trays.

Benefits of Whitening Trays

Whitening trays are professionally and custom-fitted trays for your unique dental structure. Your dentist will craft the trays, clean your teeth, and monitor the situation accordingly. Professional teeth whitening trays are typically less expensive than laser whitening. Here are some of the advantages to this procedure:

Improved Safety: Professional teeth whitening trays can be safer compared to over-the-counter products and laser whitening. Having a certified dentist design a custom-fit tray for your teeth ensures you’re getting the safest product available.

Less Expensive: Custom teeth whitening trays are typically less expensive compared to in-office laser whitening. Teeth whitening trays usually cost between $150 and $300, while laser procedures can be several hundred dollars or more. If your budget is a significant concern, professional whitening trays may be the better solution.

Stronger: Professional teeth whitening trays are much stronger than over-the-counter products. Dentists use high-grade materials and ingredients that consumers can’t get their hands on. This ensures you’re receiving the maximum benefit possible.

Long-Lasting: Custom-fitting teeth whitening trays can last up to five years with proper maintenance and care. This makes this procedure a practical option for individuals looking for a long-term solution.

Comfortable and Efficient: Professional teeth whitening trays are known to be comfortable, efficient, and convenient. Because the trays are fitted to your unique dental structure, you can be sure they won’t slip out of place. You can also wear custom trays to bed, allowing even more benefit.

Should You Go With Laser Whitening?

Laser teeth whitening, professional whitening trays, and other procedures are effective ways to brighten your smile. The option you choose is going to depend on your preference, budget, and circumstance.

Be sure to speak with your dentist to develop a plan before making any decisions about your teeth.

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