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You can get a brighter smile with a number of different whitening products and techniques available at home or at a dentist’s office. They vary in effectiveness (and price), but none of them provide permanent results.

One technique is a light-activated teeth whitening procedure. This treatment can use different kinds of lights, including:

  • ultraviolet (UV) lights
  • halogen lights
  • light-emitting diode (LED) lights

Blue LED light treatments are becoming increasingly popular, especially because they are considered safer than UV light. You can buy over-the-counter whitening products that include a blue light, or you can choose to have treatment in your dentist’s office.

You may be very pleased with the results, but you also might want to know what to expect with this treatment.

Your dentist will apply a whitening gel to your teeth. Then they will use a blue LED light, which activates the hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide whitening gel. This helps break apart the gel faster. The resulting chemical reaction lifts stains off your teeth.

Whether you’re at home or in your dentist’s office, the process works the same way.

The research is mixed about the effectiveness of using a light source like an LED light to help whiten your teeth.

A 2014 study reviewed a decade of research on light-activated sources for tooth bleaching in a dental office setting. It concluded that the use of a light activator did not seem to speed up the whitening process or improve the results.

However, a 2012 study suggests that using a whitening gel and LED light as part of an in-office process did seem to be effective.

Generally speaking, 2014 literature suggests that teeth whitening methods that use hydrogen or carbamide peroxide, including blue light whitening methods, are safe. This includes both clinical studies and in vitro studies, which are studies on teeth outside of a person’s mouth.

However, this treatment might have some risks. You may experience some tooth sensitivity and irritation in the areas of treatment after getting your teeth whitened with a blue light treatment method.

In one small 2012 study, an in-office treatment included an LED light to activate a whitening gel for three 10-minute cycles.

The study found that people experienced slightly more irritation and sensitivity around their teeth after that first in-office treatment than they did during a 2-week period of continuing treatment at home without the LED light.

If you choose to do a blue light teeth whitening procedure in a dentist’s office, here’s what to expect:

  1. Your dentist will thoroughly clean your teeth.
  2. They will take a shade measurement of your teeth to provide a comparison for the results of the whitening process.
  3. Your dentist will use tools like a cheek retractor to hold your lips away from your teeth and apply a gel to protect your gums.
  4. They will apply a whitening gel to your teeth.
  5. Your dentist will aim the blue light at your teeth.
  6. They will rinse your mouth completely and check the color of your teeth after the procedure.
  7. This process may be repeated a few times to improve the whitening results.

A blue light teeth whitening kit lets you whiten your teeth at home. One thing to consider: The at-home kits tend to contain solutions that are not as strong as the ones you get in your dentist’s office.

They may come with whitening strips containing the whitening agent or plastic trays that you fill with whitening gel, along with a battery-powered blue light.

The whitening kits generally work the same way:

  1. Apply the whitening product to your teeth. You will either place whitening strips directly on your teeth or insert whitening gel with a syringe into a set of trays. Insert the trays in your mouth to cover your teeth.
  2. You may need to let the whitening product sit on your teeth for a certain amount of time before turning on the blue light.
  3. Use the blue light to activate the whitening product. In some products, the light attaches directly to the mouthpiece, so you don’t have to hold it in place. In many products, the light will turn off automatically after a set amount of usage time.

Be sure to follow the exact directions on the kit that you’re using because they can vary from product to product. Some products advertise that you may need more than one treatment.

You can purchase a blue light teeth whitening kit from specialty websites, as well as from big box stores, drug stores, and other places online. You can even get vegan, gluten-free, and kosher versions.

Shop for a blue light teeth whitening kit online.

Blue light treatment is not the only light-based teeth whitening treatment available. Ask your dentist about these other treatments that they may offer in their offices.

Halogen light

Some research suggests that using a halogen light can help improve the results of a teeth whitening procedure. For example, one study published in 2016 found that using a halogen light with a 37.5-percent hydrogen peroxide solution whitened teeth better than going without the light.

However, this was an in vitro study, meaning it was done on teeth that were not in a person’s mouth. So the results might vary when performed in people. For now, if you’re interested, you may need to see a dentist to use this method.

Ultraviolet light

Your dentist may offer a procedure that uses an FDA-approved UV light or laser to help whiten your teeth. Although the potential risks of exposure to UV light seem low, they are still possible. Speak with your dentist about protection for your eyes and gum during the procedure.

Blue LED light teeth whitening products are one of several light-activated treatments available. The effectiveness of this type of treatment is currently mixed, according to research.

Ask your dentist for more information about using LED lights for teeth whitening.