Before You Go
Questions to ask your doctor:
- Are my teeth healthy enough to undergo laser tooth whitening?
- Can I try professional laser whitening if I have been using home whitening kits?
- If I have sensitive teeth, can I simply shorten the laser whitening time?
What To Expect
The procedure begins like many other visits to the dentist, with a quick teeth cleanse to wash away plaque that hides in the teeth and gum line. A dental dam is inserted to protect the gums from exposure to chemicals. The teeth are then coated with a concentrated hydrogen peroxide gel.
Lastly, a laser light is passed over the chemically treated teeth, which activates the hydrogen peroxide. The hydrogen peroxide then bleaches the teeth.
Who should do it: Seek out a licensed dentist who can perform a regular dental exam before the laser whitening procedure, since it's important to determine that the treated teeth are in good dental health.
As for the actual laser whitening procedure, your dentist should have ample experience operating modern laser technology. Make sure to inquire who will be performing the procedure - in many states, it is perfectly legal for an associate or aesthetician to perform the procedure. The ostensibly supervising dentist may only be in the building, not nearby.
Duration: Laser whitening is usually an hour-long procedure. This is the time it will take for your teeth to be cleaned, prepped, and left under the laser light.
How Painful Is It?
Laser whitening is normally a pain-free procedure, but be sure to tell your dentist if, during the procedure, your teeth become ultra-sensitive. This may mean the bleaching agent should be washed off sooner than average. The tooth sensitivity can feel like a dull ache or, if the whitening solution comes in contact with the gum line, a slight - but tolerable - burning.
Options for anesthesia: Anesthesia isn't used for laser tooth whitening.