Tooth Whitening

Dear Dr. Ellie:

Are you familiar with the White Light technology for whitening teeth which involves applying a gel to the dental tray before attaching the light transmitter? If so, what is your opinion about it’s safety and effectiveness? Would it work better if it were made of the same things as Closys?


Dear PT

The effect of Closys is mainly to remove surface staining.

The idea of whitening is a very good marketing idea but tooth enamel is really translucent clear. You cannot change the color of clear!

A tooth appears a particular color because of the way that the light reflects or bounces off its surface. If a tooth is strong and fully mineralized the light reflects brightly and appears bright and “white” like a diamond. If a tooth is soft or mineral-poor it will absorb light and look yellowish.

Teeth appear a particular color depending on the way the light is hitting them and how much light is absorbed (on a soft surface versus a hard surface).

Also it depends on the light.
You teeth will look different in daylight when compared with the light in your bathroom mirror.

Mirrors and fluorescent lights make teeth look yellowish (which is very good for toothpaste manufacturers). Go out into the daylight and smile at a friend and get their opinion about the color of your tooth This is a more realistic and better test for tooth color!

I believe the safe way to “whiten” teeth is to naturally strengthen them. (By the way there is not much money in this idea!)

If you want “fake-white” teeth you do some amount of damage to your tooth in order to achieve this. This does not mean that your tooth will be permanently damaged it will, however experience some degree of damage in order to whiten.

It’s your choice!

Ellie Phillips, DDS

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