Every month seems to bring a new tooth-whitening product to the market. From baking soda and charcoal toothpaste to whitening strips and the at-home Zoom whitening pen, people are buying into the 6.9 billion dollar dental bleaching market, hoping to get that dazzling smile. Often though, the at-home products just aren't giving people the results they’re looking for, and more and more people are visiting their dental care provider for clinical whitening treatments.
The burning question I get from nearly everyone looking into these treatments is, “Which one is better, Zoom whitening Or laser teeth whitening?
Let's break down the pros and cons to see which option is best for you.
Aren’t they the same thing with just a different name?
While the processes have similarities, Zoom whitening and laser teeth whitening are different. Both procedures involve applying hydrogen peroxide to the teeth, but Zoom whitening uses a light rather than a laser to activate the bleaching gel. In both processes, the chemical reaction is called oxidation, which gets into the tooth enamel and removes the stains.
Both procedures take around an hour, but you complete the Zoom whitening process in three 15-minute blocks with three separate applications of the gel. Both will result in noticeably whiter teeth after just one visit to the practitioner. The glistening result is due to the strength of the hydrogen peroxide that dentists are allowed to use, usually 25%-35%, as opposed to at-home whitening kits, which are about 7-10% hydrogen peroxide. Both procedures happen in a clinic, with the dentist applying the gel carefully to avoid irritating your gums.
So how are they different?
The main difference between the two procedures is the tool used to emit the light that triggers the chemical reaction.
But what does laser teeth whitening do that is different? Laser teeth whitening uses a very narrow beam, meaning the practitioner has to target one tooth at a time whitening each tooth individually. The treatment time will sometimes vary depending on how many teeth the patient has that require work.
Should you opt for Zoom whitening, the dentist will apply the gel to your teeth and then activate the zoom chairside lamp that targets all of your teeth at the same time. The procedure will happen in 3 lots of 15 minutes.
Pros and cons
So what are the pros and cons of Zoom vs laser teeth whitening? Zoom whitening reaches all your teeth simultaneously, so there is a more even reaction rate which can lead to better consistency of results. Zoom also filters out infrared energy, which means less heat exposure to your teeth during the procedure.
I’m often asked, “Is laser teeth whitening more effective?” but Zoom whitening has actually been shown to produce faster results than laser teeth whitening, and the Zoom whitening cost is often cheaper as it does not take as much time, and precision by the dentist as using a laser treatment does.
One of the pros of laser teeth whitening is that it can be easier to tolerate for people with tooth sensitivity, as some find the three 15-minute sessions with the Zoom whitening lamp painful, one of the teeth whitening side effects. Laser is more effective at targeting specific teeth. So, for example, if you have heavier staining on certain teeth, these can be lightened individually to create a uniformly white smile instead of bringing all of the teeth down a shade or two lighter and still having certain teeth a darker shade than others.
So which one is best for me?
First, it is best to visit your dental care practitioner to discuss the best options for you. They will assess your teeth and their suitability for whitening. Both Zoom whitening and laser teeth whitening work best for yellow or brown-stained teeth but may not have any effect on graying teeth affected by trauma, age or from drugs like tetracycline. In this case, you might find other options, such as dental veneers, the best way to create your perfect smile. Laser and Zoom might not be the best recommendation for other reasons, such as:
Patients with tooth decay
People with highly sensitive teeth
Exposed dentin and cracks in tooth enamel
Patients with extensive restorations in the visible part of the smile
Patients with gum recession and yellow roots
If your dentist deems you a good candidate for in-clinic whitening, what it will come down to is the teeth whitening cost, comfort, and whether or not you need specific teeth targeted more than others. For comfort and specific targeting, laser teeth whitening is the best choice. If cost is the primary concern, Zoom bleaching is a better option, as the laser teeth whitening cost is often higher.
Another consideration will be if your clinic offers both services. If you have a trusted dentist with considerably more experience with lasers than Zoom whitening or vice versa, then that is what I would personally go with to get the best possible result.
Whichever treatment you choose, the best way to ensure long-lasting results is with proper aftercare. The dentist may give you some at-home products to use, and along with using those, be sure to avoid foods that are acidic or contain dyes and strong colors (especially in the first week). Don’t smoke, and be sure to rinse your mouth several times a day with a fluoride rinse.
Is teeth whitening permanent?
No, this will not give you permanent teeth whitening, but if you closely follow instructions, the results from Zoom whitening and laser teeth whitening can last up to 2 years.
Good luck, and I hope you get the gleaming smile you always wanted!