Philips Zoom WhiteSpeed is a treatment that promises to permanently whiten your teeth. It's not cheap and before you decide to fork out several hundred bucks for the treatment, you'd obviously want to know it works. Lifehacker's Spandas Lui and Gizmodo's Rae Johnston tested it out in the wild and lived to tell the tale. Here are the results.
All the coffee and Coca Cola I consume on a regular basis have not treated my teeth kindly, leaving them with a yellowish hue. I brush my teeth twice a day but no whitening toothpaste has been able to help me get the stain off. I've been curious about professional teeth whitening for a while after several failed attempts of using home kits to do the job. When Quality Dental offered Lifehacker an opportunity to test out its Philips Zoom WhiteSpeed treatment, I dragged Rae along to try it out; two test subjects are better than one.
How Teeth Whitening At A Dentist Works
We're not going to talk about home kits here because teeth whitening at a dentist is very different in terms of the strength of the chemical that is used and the results they can deliver. Both at home kits and dental treatments for teeth whitening uses peroxide but obviously you can get it in a much higher concentration at the dentist.
A tooth is a semi-permeable membrane. The enamel itself covers the surface of your teeth and is translucent. Often when you see yellow teeth, it's not the enamel that's giving off the colour; it's the layer under it called the dentin. What in-chair dental whitening treatments do is use peroxide to penetrate the enamel and lighten the dentin layer.
This is completely different to your routine teeth cleaning at the dentist, which takes care of the surface of the teeth.
Mind you, there is a limit on how white you can get your teeth to look. The dentin can only lighten up to a certain point which varies from person to person. If you want pearly whites that you often see on Hollywood celebrities you'd probably have to resort to expensive dental veneers.
So if you're looking to get professional teeth whitening expecting your teeth to be white as snow, you'll need to manage your expectations. You will also need to check with your dentist on whether your teeth are suitable for whitening.
There are a few teeth whitening options offered by dentists. For this experiment, we tested out the Philips Zoom WhiteSpeed which uses LED light to speed up the hydrogen peroxide that is applied on the teeth. One treatment costs around $600-$700, depending on the dental practice you choose to do it at.
Side Effects From Teeth Whitening
While teeth whitening doesn’t really damage your teeth (provided that you use the peroxide in low concentration), your teeth might become more sensitive for a period of time after the treatment. This is called dentin hypersensitivity (DHS). People who already have sensitive teeth should be aware of this before doing teeth whitening.
Some people are also prone to get white spots on their teeth after the treatment but they will gradually fade.
After a quick consultation with Dr Luke Cronin at Quality Dental, who would be administering the
pain treatment, Rae and I split up and plopped ourselves on a dental chair. We were required to put on a very attractive dental mouth opener. A foam-like solution was then sprayed around our gums to keep the hydrogen peroxide gel, that was later applied to the teeth, from seeping out and to keep saliva out.
A blue light was then beamed onto our gel covered teeth. It's an LED accelerator that helps boost the stain-removing abilities of hydrogen peroxide.
Luckily for us, the dental practice had Netflix running in every room. For the record, I watched The Crown (because, Matt Smith) while Rae relaxed to Black Mirror: "The dentist told me people normally choose something light-hearted to take their mind off things. I chose the Virtual Reality horror game episode of Season three of Black Mirror, because I clearly live life on hard mode."
Despite the Netflix distraction, I'm not going to lie, it wasn't that comfortable. Sitting there with a mouth stretcher and not being able to swallow my saliva properly was frustrating. But who am I kidding? Nobody ever has a pleasant time at the dentist.
The blue light also burnt a patch on my upper lip; not a melting flesh kind of burn, it just felt like a bad sunburn.
Rae probably had it worse: "I was quite comfortable until the end of thew third round of gel, when I began getting electric shock-like shooting pain in one of my lower teeth. This continued for the last few minutes of treatment and for an hour or so after it."
We did three rounds of light treatment, where the dental nurses would come in to reapply the gel in between sessions, and that was it. The whole process took just under an hour.
Are you ready to be blinded by our pearly whites?
Okay, the results aren't that dramatic, but there was a noticeable difference.
Rae was impressed with how her teeth looked after the whitening:
"At the end of the treatment everything was removed from my mouth and I got to see the results - and they were amazing. I couldn't believe it, I was so genuinely happy."
Rae's before and after comparison:
My results were good but were less noticeable. But as the dentist explained earlier, results vary between different people. Nonetheless, I was pretty happy with what I saw:
My before and after comparison:
My partner couldn't stop looking at my teeth that night.
What Happened After The Whitening
We were each given an aftercare kit that contained numbing gel to counter any sensitivity that we may have in the next few days.
Rae suffered a bit that night: "Over the next few hours, a throbbing pain started to develop in what felt like the insides of my teeth. That evening I had to take paracetamol to dull it a little so I could sleep. The aftercare gel worked a little, but nowhere near as much as I would have liked.
"By the next morning, the pain was gone, my teeth were white, and I was so pleased with the results."
I got away lightly; just a few bouts of sensitivity but they weren't too bad.
It has been just over a month since we got the whitening treatment. Our teeth aren't as white as they were when we first had them done but that was expected since surface stains will build up again. They're definitely still a lot whiter than before the treatment.
I'll see if they whiten up again after my next routine teeth cleaning at my local dentist.
So here's the big question: was it worth it?
Here's Rae's verdict: "They didn't come without a little discomfort, but were 100% worth it. I'd do it again if I had to - but I likely won't since apparently the results are permanent! No more "whitening" toothpaste for this girl."
As for me, I initially balked at the $600-$700 per treatment price tag but given you only need to go once and the good whitening results I saw, I'd say it's worth it if you want to noticeably whiten your teeth.