Patients often demand esthetic treatments for their smiles in order to improve their overall appearance. Tooth whitening is a conservative option to improve the shade of teeth and therefore the overall appearance of your patients' smiles. There are several methods to whiten teeth. These include using dentist-supervised take home systems, as well as in-office solutions using higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide with or without light-activation (also referred to as power bleaching).
Using light-activated systems can reduce the total in-office treatment time. Light-activation 'heats' the active ingredient of the hydrogen peroxide, which speeds up the whitening process through heat activation. Light sources include lasers, LED light (blue light) and plasma arc lights. While a faster treatment may be preferred by many patients, there is no difference in the amount of whitening that can be achieved for this and other methods and the effect does not last for longer.
High concentrations of hydrogen peroxide is associated with tooth sensitivity. Blue (LED) light is a low-energy light that is used with high-concentration hydrogen peroxide. In some studies but not others, use of light-activation has been found to increase sensitivity. In a review, increased sensitivity was found with light-activated in-office whitening compared to in-office whitening without light-activation. In a review of laser-assisted whitening, the result in studies with respect to sensitivity were variable.
Overall, transient sensitivity is a recognized side-effect of tooth whitening procedures, and in the majority of cases resolves within a short period of time. The advantage of using a light-activated system is that the treatment in the dental office can be shortened. Recent efforts have focused on use of a high-energy LED light for shorter periods of time. Research has shown that use of a take-home product (Colgate Optic White Professional Take-Home Whitening), which uses a low-concentration hydrogen peroxide that forms a film and a high-energy LED light for 10 minutes once-daily, provides rapid whitening results and is designed for no sensitivity.