There seems to be a bit of opposite views within the dental community regarding the usefulness of laser beams or other sources of light in tooth bleaching. Most dentists believe that tooth bleaching is enhanced with the use of lasers and other sources of light, while others are of the opinion that the effect of tooth bleaching remains the same, with or without the use of lasers or lights.
The manufacturers of light-activated tooth bleaching solutions declare that the use of light makes bleaching a necessity. While different makers give a variety of reasons behind the effectiveness of light-activated tooth bleaching solutions, the theory behind them is that the laser or light “activation” acts as a catalyst and triggers a quick degradation of the peroxide whitener. The laser or light aids the bleaching process by quickly converting the peroxide into the reactive oxygen free radicals. The effect speeds up the bleaching process and also makes it more intense, giving improved whitening results.
Bleaching lights can cost a few thousand dollars, making the setup of such a system quite expensive for the dentist. Until recently, there was a general acceptance within the dental community that the lights or lasers were essential for tooth bleaching. It was only when a few dentists realized there were no clinical studies to prove this that the controversy began.
Many recent studies by prominent dentists have shown that bleaching (compounds|materials) contained in tooth whitening solutions seem to work well and provide good results even without the use of lasers or lights. The use of lasers or lights had minimal effect on the results. The study was done by using the “split arch” method, wherein the teeth on one side were treated using just the whitener, while the teeth on the other side were treated using the whitener as well as an activating light source. The study revealed that the results were the same in both cases. The teeth on both sides were equally whitened in the initial comparisons as well as the evaluations that were made after one year of treatment. With a conclusion like this one might wonder if the lights are merely a marketing gimmick.
This is why many manufacturers of tooth whitening products and dentists do not incorporate a light source as a part of the whitening process today. Some of the leading professional in-office brands that do not use an “activating” light or laser (or consider it to be optional) are:
• Ultradent Opalescence Xtra Boost
• Rembrandt Virtuoso Lightening Gel
Dr. Vipul Shikula