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Light or no light, that is the question!

But what is the answer?

Unless you have been living under a rock you will have seen a growing trend for teeth whitening products using LED-lights to whiten your teeth. BUT do you need an LED-light to whiten your teeth? And does it work? Lets discuss!!

The use of LED or ‘whitening’ lights for more effective tooth-whitening is not supported by current research.

American Dental Association research has found that whilst using an LED-light to whiten teeth will result in an initial shade change of teeth this is actually caused by teeth dehydration and will reverse after time. Pulpal irritation and tooth sensitivity may be higher with use of bleaching lights or heat application. In fact, the effects on tooth color change were variable in studies carried out, some differences were not detectable visually.

You may be reading this and think, “my dentist uses a bleaching light, so it must work!”

CRA (Clinical Research Associates) polled dentists about why they use a light. Some of the responses were:

  • Because it came with my system.
  • Because patients ask for it.
  • Because it’s good for marketing

So some dentists would rather trust a teeth-whitening manufacturer (and marketing gimmicks) than research carried out by their peers.

Here is an example of what leading industry experts say on LED-lights / bleaching lights being used for teeth-whitening:

CED, Council of European Dentists: “The CED firmly discourages the use of whitening lamps since current scientific literature do not support the use of lights (please see relevant literature in Annex I). Whitening lamps do not have a real effect on bleaching and may cause many adverse effects”

Colgate, USA: “A study published in the Journal of Evidence Based Dental Practice reviewed the safety and effectiveness of a variety of teeth whitening processes, including the use of UV light to whiten teeth. In examining the use of a “blue light with a wave length between 480 nm and 520 nm,” during the whitening process, the study suggests that using a light to activate the peroxide had no real added benefit.”

Opalescence, Ultradent Products, Inc., USA: “Current research shows that hydrogen peroxide alone (the whitening agent used in Opalescence Boost) is effective in whitening teeth, and that light activation adds no additional benefit.”

New York Times:“Some dentists also use heat or even lasers to activate bleaching agents. But a 2007 systematic review of evidence in the journal Dental Materials found no added benefit from heat, light or lasers and suggested these methods “may have an adverse effect on pulpal tissue,” the soft material in the tooth’s center. If pulp is injured, it may require a root canal to fix.”

So there you have it, you CAN go white without a light!