What are consumer's options for teeth whitening and why are SmileLABS products here to stay?

Cosmetic teeth whitening is the most asked for elective treatment performed at a dentist’s office. Outside the dental setting, whitening is second in demand only to hair treatments. Currently, the public has three basic options for whitening their teeth. These options are whitenings done at the dentist’s office, the use of over-the-counter take-home products, and the SmileLABS™ Cosmetic Teeth Whitening procedure.

In general, there are two methods of teeth whitening employed by dentists. The first of these is called the take-home custom-made bleaching tray method. It was the original method invented by a dentist about 25 years ago. The dentist makes impressions (molds) of the patient’s upper and lower teeth. From these molds, thin upper and lower silicone custom bleaching trays are fabricated in the dentist’s lab. These trays are trimmed so that they just cover the patient’s teeth and overlap slightly onto the gum area. These trays are given to the patient to take and use at home, along with a few syringes of peroxide-based whitening gel. The patient is taught to load the trays with the gel and wear them each night when going to bed. The patient sleeps with one tray, usually starting with the uppers, for the next 14 nights. The patient then switches to the lower tray and wears that one for another 14 days. So, after a month, treatment is finished and the patient will definitely see a marked improvement in the whiteness of their teeth. The cost for this service is $200-$400. The treatment does work, it is moderately expensive, but its drawback is the long length of time required to complete the treatment. Also, since it is a slow, gradual whitening, many patients will tire of doing it every night while initially seeing little in the way of immediate results. Many quit the treatment before it is complete.

The dentist’s second common method is known as in-office chairside power bleaching, and is performed with the use of an accelerator light. The most common brand name of this type of bleaching is Zoom!™. With this method, the patient’s teeth are propped open with mouth props and the teeth and gums are exposed with the use of cheek retractors. Then a light-cured plastic material is painted onto the patient’s gums to protect them and this coating is then polymerized (hardened) with the use of a special blue light. Next, a very strong peroxide-based whitening gel is painted onto the outside (not the inside) surfaces of the upper and lower front teeth, usually from first bicuspid on right over to first bicuspid tooth on left. Then, an accelerator light that puts out a very bright (but hot) blue light is placed very close to the exposed teeth; the light is turned on and left on for a 20-minute cycle. At the end of this cycle, the gel is suctioned and rinsed off the patient’s teeth, fresh gel is re-applied, and a new cycle with the light is performed. The usual regimen is three such 20-minute cycles per appointment. After treatment, the teeth are rinsed clean for the last time, and post-operative instructions are given. These instructions include explaining that there is a very high likelihood that there will be strong tooth sensitivity for the next 2-4 weeks. This sensitivity occurs in the form of sporadic short electrical-type shocks that feel like they are coming from the inside of the tooth. These shocks even have a name, and are called “Zings”, because they are so prevalent with this type of treatment. So, Zoom!™ causes Zings!™. Isn’t that special? Also, even though this treatment is relatively quick (usually about 2 hours total time at the dentist) and the results are nice white teeth, this treatment costs between $500 to as high as $1200 to have done!

The consumer’s second option is over-the-counter (OTC) products. A popular example of these products is Crest™ White Strips™. Aquafresh™ also has a strip-type product available.  There are also now some new toothpastes coming to market that claim to whiten teeth. As far as the strips are concerned, they are relatively cheap (about $40 per box) and they do work if the customer sticks to the treatment regimen. If the customer’s teeth are not too badly stained or yellow, one box will result in white teeth in about thirty days for about $40. However, if the teeth are more stained or are yellower than what Crest™ thinks is the usual starting shade of most people’s teeth, the treatment will require more than one $40 box of strips, and will result in up to 60 days or more of treatment time. In addition, there are a number of customers that experience a burning sensation in the gums when using the strips. This is because some of the bleach embedded in the strips will leach out of the strip and, when mixed with saliva, it will cause a temporary but uncomfortable irritation of the gum tissue. Also, like the dentist’s custom take-home trays, because of the long length of treatment time, customer compliance in doing the regimen faithfully to the end many times does not occur.

Lastly, we have the SmileLABS™ treatment method. Our procedure is also an immediate in-the-chair power bleaching. Treatment time is in 15-minute sessions, with a single $99 15-minute session resulting in 2-4 shades changed, and a double for $149 (two 15 minutes sessions back to back in the same appointment) resulting in 4-8 shades changed. We use the same type of peroxide-based gel as the dentist, but we also use our Applia System to deliver the bleaching gel to the teeth that allows the teeth to remain fully hydrated. This is one reason that we don’t get the Zings. Another is that our Infinity SL accelerator light does not produce any heat, unlike the  Zoom!™ light. Heating desiccated (dried out) teeth with the accelerator light that Zoom!™ uses is what causes the Zings. Since our cool LED light technology eliminates the heat problem, coupled with teeth that remain fully hydrated and undesiccated by our water-based gel, we very rarely have any type of teeth or gum sensitivity at all. That’s why we think that the SmileLABS™ Cosmetic Teeth Whitening procedure is heads above all the other options.