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Laser Teeth Whitening: Cost, Pros and Cons, and Before and After

Natalie Asmussen
Natalie Asmussen
Medically reviewed by
Sandra Serrano Pardo, DMD
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If you're looking to whiten your teeth professionally, you may be considering laser teeth whitening. This teeth whitening procedure is done in-office by a dentist, and uses lasers to activate the whitening chemicals in teeth whitening gel.

It's typically a successful procedure that can provide among the strongest results of most professional whitening procedures. Keep reading to find out all about laser teeth whitening including:

  • Laser teeth whitening cost
  • How long laser teeth whitening lasts
  • Side effects of laser teeth whitening
  • Safety of laser teeth whitening

We hope this article helps you figure out if this is the whitening treatment for you.

What is laser teeth whitening?

Laser teeth whitening is a process that involves the application of bleaching gel, activated by the radiation of a laser. The actual laser itself doesn't do any bleaching. Instead, it activates the bleaching gel, heating it up and making it work faster and more effectively.

How does laser whitening work?

In scientific terms, the bleaching process takes place via something called photochemical activation. This is a process wherein the bleaching gel comes in contact with an energy source (laser). It increases the potential of the bleaching agent in whitening teeth.

As far as what you'll experience goes, you can more or less expect the following:

teeth whitening laser
Find out about laser teeth whitening
  • Your dentist will place a rubber guard in your mouth to help keep it open during the procedure.
  • They then apply a protective coating over your gums so that they don't come into contact with the bleaching gel, preventing irritation and damage.
  • The dentist then applies the whitening gel to your teeth, and activates the gel using the laser. At this point you can expect the gel to foam, indicating that it is working.
  • The gel is generally left on your teeth for a few minutes at a time, at which point your dentist will take it off and then reapply until the desired shade is achieved. The entire appointment can take anywhere from 30 to 90 minutes, and several appointments may be required.

Post-treatment care

laser teeth whitening pros and cons
Watch out for wine!

After treatment, you should follow the instructions from your dentist, but these typically include:

  • Avoiding eating foods containing dyes
  • Avoiding acidic foods
  • Avoiding smoking
  • Rinsing your mouth with fluoride rinses several times a day to rehydrate enamel and dentin

Whitening agents used

Carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide are the most common bleaching agents used in tooth whitening treatments. Typically the concentration of peroxide in the whitening gel that dentists use in-office is around 35% or a little more.

This can cause sensitivity, although it should be safe because your dentist will take special measures to protect your gums from the whitening gel. They may also give you something to help ease sensitivity.

In the video below, you can see how the laser teeth whitening procedure works, plus the before and after results:

Laser whitening uses

Laser teeth whitening can be used to whiten teeth stained for a variety of reasons including:

  • General stains on enamel
  • Aging
  • Smoking and stains from diet like wine and coffee
  • Dental fluorosis
  • Tetracycline staining
  • Trauma to dental pulp
  • Restorative treatments

With tetracycline staining, professional bleaching alone may not be enough. In that case, a combination of treatments can be used, like bleaching and veneers. Read more about tetracycline teeth staining.

Dental fluorosis may need to be treated with a combination of laser whitening and enamel microabrasion. Find out more about fluorosis in our guide here.

Laser teeth whitening isn't for everyone

There are some cases where laser teeth whitening isn't a good option. These include:

  • Patients with decay or lesions around the tooth roots
  • Pregnant patients
  • People who experience lots of sensitivity
  • Exposed dentin and cracks in enamel
  • Patients with large restorations in the visible part of the smile
  • Elderly patients with gum recession and yellow roots

Is laser teeth whitening safe?

is laser teeth whitening safe
Laser teeth whitening is a safe procedure

Laser teeth whitening is considered to be safe, but because there is a high concentration of peroxide used, it can run the risk of dehydrating teeth and causing tooth sensitivity or irritating gums. Some would argue that laser whitening is safer than other options because the lasers can be focused on specific areas, better avoiding the gums and gum line.

That being said, lasers can harm your eyesight, so it's essential that you only get this procedure done in-office by a dentist who is certified in the procedure. They should give you safety goggles specific to the kind of laser used.

Laser teeth whitening side effects

All teeth whitening methods may cause discomfort. With laser bleaching, you may experience some sensitivity during treatment.

In one study using an argon laser 70% of patients didn't experience any sensitivity during treatment, while 30% experienced mild sensitivity. This sensitivity stopped once the procedure was completed.

Alternatives to laser whitening

There are so many ways to whiten your teeth, including:

  • Zoom teeth whitening: In-office whitening that uses an application of whitening gel and a special LED light
  • Home bleaching kits: With and without LED lights, they usually come with whitening trays into which you insert the gel
  • Whitening strips: An affordable and easy way to achieve slight tooth whitening; Crest and Snow are examples.

Laser teeth whitening vs Zoom

Both Zoom and laser teeth whitening are in-office procedures that are effective and safe ways to whiten your teeth. There are some differences that may help you decide which is best for you:

  • Coverage: Zoom whitens all teeth at the same time for more consistency, whereas laser whitens each tooth, one at a time
  • Speed: Zoom whitening is faster than laser
  • Comfort: Laser whitening can be more comfortable than Zoom because Zoom treatments may last longer
  • Tailored: Laser whitening can be tailored to each tooth

Laser teeth whitening vs bleaching

Tooth bleaching is an overarching term that can include any number of treatments, including Zoom teeth whitening, laser tooth whitening, and at-home kits — really any procedure that uses peroxide to bleach teeth! Laser whitening is a type of in-office professional tooth bleaching.

The table below shows a summary of the different alternatives to laser teeth whitening:

Laser whitening


Home bleaching kits

Whitening strips


Can produce dramatic results; patient results vary

Can produce dramatic results; patient results vary

Can be very effective in some patients

Can provide slight whitening results

Treatment duration

1 - 1.5 hours

1 - 1.5 hours

1 - 2 weeks

1 - 2 weeks

Results last for...

Can last up to 2 years

Can last up to 2 years

Up to 1 year

Results vary


  • Dentist-controlled procedure

  • Very effective

  • Dentist-controlled procedure

  • Very effective

  • Noticeable results

  • Affordable and convenient

  • Most affordable option

  • Slight whitening results possible


  • Most expensive option

  • May cause sensitivity

  • Could cause pulp inflamation and sensitivity

  • Could cause pulp inflamation

  • May irritate gums

  • Self-administered and thus requires high levels of compliance

  • Can cause irritation

  • May damage enamel

  • May not provide noticeable results

How much does laser teeth whitening cost?

Laser tooth whitening costs from $400 to $1,800. This is one of the most expensive procedures, but it's also one of the most effective. Zoom whitening costs a bit less, between $300 and $1,000. And professional bleaching without lasers can cost between $300 and $900.

Laser teeth whitening near me

Lots of dentists offer laser teeth whitening services — you don't even necessarily need to go to a dentist specializing in cosmetic dentistry. To find a dentist who offers laser whitening near you, you can call 866-383-0748. You'll be connected with a live operator who will put you through to a dentist in your area.


Laser teeth whitening is an effective and safe way to whiten teeth that provides similar results to other in-office professional bleaching methods. It can be used to whiten both intrinsic and extrinsic stains, including stains from diet on the surface of the enamel, and deeper stains, like those from tetracycline or tooth trauma.

This procedure may cause some sensitivity, and is more expensive than other procedures — but depending on your needs, it may well be worth the cost!


Is laser teeth whitening effective?

Just like with any teeth whitening method, the degree of effectiveness will depend on various factors. Let's go over the most common determiners of treatment success now:

  • Yellowish or light brown teeth with external stains are easier to bleach.
  • Bluish teeth, or teeth with grey stripes caused by antibiotics like tetracycline are more difficult to bleach.
  • Dentin darkens with aging, which can make bleaching more difficult.
  • Dental trauma can cause darkening and is more difficult to bleach.

How long does laser teeth whitening last?

When patients follow the directions of their dentist, bleaching effects can last around two years. But keep in mind that results will vary from patient to patient and will also depend on diet.

Laser Teeth Whitening: Cost, Pros and Cons, and Before and After
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Wiley Online Library: Dental Bleaching with LEDs and Lasers. Consulted 28th December 2021.