Laser can whiten your smile
It could give a whole new meaning to "beaming smile."
Dr. Edward Philips is one of a handful of cosmetic dentists pioneering a tooth-whitening technique using a laser beam.
"We've been doing it for about six weeks," he says from his practice at University Ave. and College St. "That's how new it is."
Philips compares the process to taking a piece of fabric and leaving it in the sun. "After a while, the fabric lightens. Pigment is broken down by high- intensity light."
A laser beam, he explains, is shone for five or six minutes on each tooth.
"We can do a full upper set in about an hour. In general, it runs between $800 and $1,100 per treatment.
"Calling it bleaching is a misnomer. It's not like a hair salon where the salon person takes all the pigment out of the hair, all the color and then puts whatever color they want in. We're taking color out and putting white in.
"We're able to break down the byproduct yellow pigment that naturally forms as the tooth breathes and lives. It's a residue that's yellower in some people than others."
Philips believes the procedure is only being done by two or three dental offices in Canada.
The process uses a "hot" laser, either argon or sealed- tube.
"I like the argon laser," Philips says. "It's not as intense. The sealed-tube laser builds up more heat."
He also uses a "cold" laser for a different purpose. "Another important use. I did a treatment the other day on a woman who came in from France and had developed very painful mouth ulcers. She couldn't talk or swallow.
"The cold laser speeds up the metabolism, you give enough energy to the cells and if the healing process is already going on, this speeds up the recovery.
"We gave this woman a laser treatment and it almost instantly took away the pain.
"The next day, I got to the office and there was a big bouquet of flowers waiting."