Dentistry
Cosmetic
Product Reviews
Updated on December 16, 2022
5 min read

LED Teeth Whitening

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What is LED Teeth Whitening?

Tooth whitening is any process that lightens the color of a tooth. Whitening is accomplished by either the physical removal of the stain or a chemical reaction that lightens the tooth color.

LED teeth whitening uses a tooth-whitening agent, such as hydrogen peroxide, and an LED (light-emitting diode) to whiten teeth. 

To get a brighter smile, Americans spend $1.4 billion annually on nonprescription teeth whitening products. Cosmetic tooth bleaching is a global industry, with people spending $3.2 billion to brighten their teeth worldwide.

How Does LED Teeth Whitening Work?

During the LED teeth whitening process, users first treat the teeth with a chemical agent that has bleaching properties. Blue light from the LED is then used to activate the whitening agent and start the chemical reaction.1

When this interaction happens, the blue light penetrates the enamel and lifts existing stains.

LEDs are highly efficient and last longer than other light sources. They do not have a warm-up time and immediately switch on at their highest intensity. 

However, the light from an LED will not change the color of your teeth if used alone. It acts as a catalyst to speed up the chemical reaction caused by a whitening agent.

The most commonly-used whitening agents are hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide.

Are LED Teeth Whitening Lights Safe? 

LED teeth whitening was developed to be safe for at-home use. Current research shows that LED teeth whitening is safe and effective when users follow the manufacturer's protocols.2, 3

LEDs as a light source are a safer alternative to ultraviolet (UV) light, which can cause cells to mutate. An LED light does not cause cell mutations and speeds up the whitening reaction without UV light risks.

You should talk to your dentist before whitening your teeth. Teeth whitening does not work for everyone. The results depend on the user's lifestyle and the cause of their teeth's discoloration.

LED teeth whitening works better on yellowish teeth compared to brownish or greyish-hued teeth.

Side Effects of LED Teeth Whitening Kits

Like other teeth whitening methods, the most common side effects of LED teeth whitening kits are tooth sensitivity and mild gingival irritation.3 Factors that increase the risk of these side effects include:

  • The concentration of the bleaching agent
  • Duration of the treatment
  • The formula of the whitening product
  • Disregarding the product manufacturer's instructions

Tooth sensitivity can last for several days and begins during the whitening treatment. Gingival irritation can begin a day after the treatment and last several days.

More severe side effects include susceptibility to tooth demineralization. This is caused by overexposure to the bleaching agent. Another severe side effect is pulpal damage.

Pros and Cons of Blue Light Teeth Whitening

Blue light LED teeth whitening offers many benefits, including:

  • Whiter teeth
  • The convenience of whitening teeth at home versus having to go to a dental office
  • Affordability
  • Free from UV radiation 
  • Less painful than whitening at the dentist's office

Blue light LED teeth whitening also has some downsides, including:

  • Varying results based on the cause of discoloration
  • Gradual results compared to professional teeth whitening, which provides immediate results
  • Increased tooth sensitivity
  • Burning or irritation caused by the bleaching agent coming into contact with the mouth's delicate tissues, such as the tongue or gums
  • Permanent damage from overuse caused by excessive tooth whitening treatments, using too much whitening agent, or leaving the whitening agent on for too long

Is LED Teeth Whitening Worth It?

Whether or not LED teeth whitening is worth it depends on a person's lifestyle. The longevity of the treatment results varies. Several factors can impact tooth discoloration, including:

  1. Eating certain foods (like dark-colored fruits, tomato sauce, and curry powder)
  2. Beverages like tea, coffee, and red wine
  3. Smoking
  4. Specific medications (like antibiotics doxycycline or tetracycline)
  5. Natural aging
  6. Genetics

To maintain a whiter smile after treatment, follow these steps:

  • Stay hydrated – Water rinses compounds from dark-colored foods and drinks that can stain enamel.
  • Rinse your mouth – Rinse with a glass of water after drinking acidic beverages like coffee, soda, or wine. 
  • Use a straw – Drink dark-colored liquids through a straw when possible to prevent them from staining the teeth' surface.
  • Brush with a whitening toothpaste – Proper oral hygiene keeps teeth clean and bright.
  • Schedule a cleaning – Regular dental exams keep teeth healthy.
  • Avoid tobacco products – Cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco can cause staining

All types of bleaching — whether over-the-counter, take-home kits, or in the dental office — are temporary, requiring touch-ups at some point. If your lifestyle lets you maintain the results, LED teeth whitening can be worth it.

The risk of side effects is only great if you do not follow the product instructions. However, consult your dentist to determine which LED teeth whitening kit is best for you.

How Often Can I Whiten My Teeth At Home?

Before whitening your teeth at home, have your teeth checked by your dentist for any tooth problems which could cause the pulp to become irritated during whitening. This can cause temporary sensitivity and discomfort. 

You should ask your dentist which teeth whitening products they recommend based on your personal needs and dental history.

When using an at-home whitening system, follow the manufacturer's instructions for as many treatments as possible to reach your desired shade of whiteness. Each whitening kit is different, so read the directions carefully and follow the guidelines.

Once you've achieved your desired shade, you can transition to whitening maintenance depending on your diet and homecare.

Last updated on December 16, 2022
10 Sources Cited
Last updated on December 16, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Hayward et al. “A clinical study of the effectiveness of a light emitting diode system on tooth bleaching.” The Open Dentistry Journal, 2012.
  2. Barrette, L. “DIY Teeth Whitening: Too Good to Be True?” URMC Newsroom, 2020.
  3. Carey, CM. “Tooth whitening: what we now know.” The Journal of Evidence-based Dental Practice, 2014.
  4. Snow® At-Home Teeth Whitening All-in-One Kit.” Snow Cosmetics LLC.
  5. How whitening works.” Hismile Pty Ltd.
  6. GLO Brilliant Teeth Whitening Device.” GLO Science.
  7. Teeth Whitening Kit.” AuraGlow.
  8. Teeth Whitening LED Device and 10-Day Treatment Kit.” Colgate.
  9. Neighmond, P. “Navigating The 'Aisle Of Confusion' To Whiten Your Teeth.” NPR, 2017.
  10. Teeth Whitening.” HealthLink BC.
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