Cosmetic Surgery Tips

How to Use UV Light for Teeth Whitening

If you’re looking to get whiter teeth, but you don’t want to use chemicals or spend a lot of money on over-the-counter treatments, then consider using UV light for teeth whitening. It’s safe, effective, and relatively inexpensive.

UV light for teeth whitening works by exposing your teeth to the UV rays in sunlight or from a special lamp. The exposure causes the enamel on your teeth to bleach naturally, making them look whiter than before. This is because the UV light breaks down the melanin in your teeth—melanin being what gives them their brown coloration—and replaces it with oxygen molecules that make them look brighter and more white.

How to Use UV Light for Teeth Whitening

Is There a Link Between UV Light Teeth Whitening and Cancer?

Teeth whitening at the dentist, or even with some at-home kits, is often a two-part process. Along with a bleaching agent that is applied to the teeth, an instrument called a curing light is moved over the teeth to help activate the chemicals. Because some curing lights use UV technology (others are halogen or LED), some people wonder if they are safe. After all, the American Cancer Society points to ultraviolet radiation, or UV light, as a cause of skin cancer. Could UV light teeth whitening cause cancer too?

Patients will be relieved to learn that there are no studies showing that light used for teeth whitening causes cancer. But, while cancer is not a concern, there are other reasons to be careful when using whitening tools both with and without light. This is especially true when whitening without a dentist’s supervision.

The Science Behind UV Light Teeth Whitening

UV, halogen, or LED light by itself does nothing to whiten teeth. Hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide solutions are what get rid of stains and lighten teeth. Many products use chemicals alone. Applying light as an extra step activates the molecules in the bleaching agent, with the goal of a faster, longer-lasting change in color.

The first types of lights used for this purpose by dentists were UV and halogen. They produce heat to accelerate the process. Products like Zoom! whitening uses this method. More recently, LED blue light has become popular. It activates the molecules without radiating heat. Several over-the-counter whitening products have begun including a blue light device with their kits.

Although there is widespread use of light for teeth whitening, there is some debate about how well it works. A study conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information concluded that while light showed some enhanced results compared to cases using only chemicals, the difference was not “statistically significant.”

Most dentists and dental product manufacturers feel that light does make a difference. They continue to include it as part of the teeth whitening process.

Teeth Whitening Hazards to Watch For

Woman wearing eye protection during UV light teeth whitening procedure

Even though cancer is not considered a valid concern, there are some other risks associated with UV light teeth whitening. UV instruments are powerful and applying the light for too long or directing it in the wrong spot can damage soft tissues. It can cause sensitivity or even mild burns on the lips, gums, or tongue. 

Care must also be taken to protect the eyes while using UV light. Dental technicians, as well as their patients, should use protective eyewear during treatment.

However, if patients experience problems during whitening, it is much more likely to be because of the strong chemicals used rather than the light source. The solutions allowed at the dentist’s office are much stronger than those in store-bought products. Dentists take special care to make sure the peroxide bleaching solution stays on the teeth and away from the gums and lips. 

Because of these safety concerns, these strong chemicals and the use of UV and halogen lights for teeth whitening should be left to professionals at a dental practice.

At-Home Teeth Whitening Kits With Lights

Whitening kits that include lights are popping up all over the retail market. The appeal is obvious: these products promise an experience that looks like what is offered at a dentist’s office, for a fraction of the cost. Plus, it gives users the convenience of staying home rather than making several dental appointments for whitening treatment.

Teeth whitening at home is not the same as professional whitening. The chemicals allowed for retail sale are not as strong as those that a dentist uses, and the results aren’t always as noticeable. If there is a light included in a kit, it will be an LED light rather than a UV light. LED is a safer option that has been adopted by many dentists too.

Over-the-counter whitening products might work fine for many people, but they run the risk of making mistakes. They need to follow instructions carefully. Tooth sensitivity and irritation of the gums and lips are common complaints, usually because of leaving solutions on the teeth too long, using them too often, or accidentally letting the chemicals come in contact with soft mouth tissues.

How to Whiten Teeth Safely

Person using at-home uv light teeth whitening device

The important thing to remember about teeth whitening with or without a light boost is that it is safe as long as it is done correctly. Here are some tips for the safest whitening practices:

  • Start with healthy teeth and gums. Applying bleaching agents to teeth with cavities or gums with gingivitis can be painful and make these existing conditions worse. See a dentist for a full checkup before starting any teeth whitening program.
  • While getting that checkup, talk to the dentist about the causes and possible solutions for your particular tooth stains. Some stains are permanent and unfortunately can’t be removed by any available method. Dental restorations like crowns and porcelain fillings won’t change color, either. 
  • When buying at-home whitening products, look for seals of approval from the FDA and the American Dental Association (ADA). It is important to note that while the ADA has data on the safety of UV curing lights used by dentists, they have not published any findings—good or bad—about at-home lights.
  • Follow all instructions carefully and do not use at-home products more often or for longer than recommended.

Beware of teeth whitening offered by non-professionals. Salons, spas, and even mall kiosks have begun offering the service. They may be able to get full-strength chemicals and even use UV lights. But these are not dental professionals and there is no guarantee that they have the appropriate training or experience to safely provide this treatment.

Choose a Dental Professional for Teeth Whitening

When whitening teeth, cancer from UV light should not be a concern. The treatment does have risks, however, so it is a good idea to understand the process and keep safety in mind.

The safest option when it comes to whitening teeth is to see a dentist. Dentists use the most effective chemicals and tools such as UV light that will give the best results, and have the expertise to use them properly. With your health and safety as their primary concern, they will protect your teeth and gums while getting your teeth as white as possible. Use our make an appointment tool to find a dentist near you to start the whitening process.

Dental floss string


Types of Dental Floss

The choices for a product as basic as  dental floss can seem overwhelming, but you can’t go wrong with a choice of floss as long as you use it every day.

Each type of dental floss has pros and cons. Here are a few points to keep in mind about your flossing options:

  • Unwaxed floss is thin nylon floss made of about 35 strands twisted together. It fits into tight spaces if your teeth are close together, but it can be prone to shredding or breaking.
  • Waxed floss is a standard nylon floss with a light wax coating. It is less likely to break, but the wax coating may make it harder to use in tight spots.
  • Dental tape is broader and flatter than standard floss and comes in waxed or unwaxed versions. People with more space between their teeth often find dental tape more comfortable to use than standard floss.
  • Polytetrafluorethylene floss (PTFE) is the same material used in high-tech Gore-Tex fabric. The material slides between the teeth easily and is less likely to shred compared to standard floss.
  • Super flosses are made from yarn-like material that has stiffer sections on each end that can be used to clean around braces or dental bridges.

The Benefits of Flavored Floss

The types of flosses mentioned above may also be flavored. If your children aren’t enthusiastic about flossing, remind them that  floss with a mint flavor can not only enhance their smiles by removing potentially embarrassing food pieces, but it can also help promote fresh breath, which might get them motivated to do their flossing before school.

Adults can appreciate flavored floss, too. If you see students, clients or patients throughout the day with little time for oral care until you get home at night, a flavored floss may be just what you need after lunch. And if you don’t want the mint in your floss to clash with the mint in your toothpaste, keep mint-flavored floss in your desk for midday dental care and use an unflavored floss with your toothpaste of choice as part of your evening oral care routine.

Everyone deserves to  benefit from flossing. But not everyone can floss their teeth easily. Some examples include young children who are just learning to floss, older adults who may have arthritic hands and limited finger flexibility, and anyone who doesn’t like putting their fingers into their mouths. But even if you are in one of these categories, you can still enjoy the benefits of flossing by using a floss holder, which is a handle with a curved end designed to hold a piece of floss.

Disposable Dental Flossers

Or you can  buy disposable flossers. Disposable flossers are a particularly good choice for young children who may be less able to keep the floss holders reliably clean.

When  using a flosser, follow the same basic technique as when using regular floss. Move the flosser handle so the piece of floss curves around the tooth in a “C” shape. Gently work the floss under the gum line and slide the floss up to the top of the tooth, going up and down several times.

Do Electric Flossers Work?

Electric flossers provide another alternative for people who have a hard time manipulating floss. Most electric flossers have ergonomic handles and some types have angled heads to make reaching back teeth even easier. Also, electric flossers promote oral health by gently stimulating the gums. But young children, older adults or anyone who has a very unsteady grip should not use an electric flosser unsupervised.

How to use dental floss with braces

How to floss with braces

How to Floss With Braces

by Dr. Tyler Coles – Premier Orthodontics

Ask anyone what the hardest part about braces is, and they’ll usually give you the same answer: flossing.

One study shows that only 30% of Americans floss their teeth when they don’t have braces…

…so you can bet that it’s even less when someone has another obstacle, like braces on their teeth to get around.

Why is Flossing With Braces So Important?

According to the American Dental Association, “Cleaning between teeth removes plaque that can lead to cavities or gum disease from the areas where a toothbrush can’t reach.

In other words, flossing removes plaque and helps prevent cavities and gum disease.

If someone has braces, the risk for plaque buildup, cavities, and gum disease increases dramatically. If you invested in braces to make your teeth straight then shouldn’t you want them to remain clean and healthy in the process?   

That’s why we want to show you the easiest, most effective ways to floss your teeth with braces. 

How to Floss With Braces Using a Floss Threader

Before you pick up some regular floss, you need to know that it doesn’t work quite the same way if you have braces… 

An extra tool is required in order to get the floss beneath the archwire. This tool is called a floss threader.

Floss your braces with a floss threader

The best way to picture a floss threader is to first imagine a needle and thread.  The floss threader will act as the needle, and your floss will be the thread. 

First, pass a piece of floss through the floss threader…

Floss threader step 1

…and then using the floss threader, “thread” the floss beneath the wire. 

Floss threader step 2
Floss threader step 3

Once you have the floss beneath the wire, you can floss as you normally would.

Floss threader step 4

After you have flossed one tooth you will need to repeat this process for each tooth.  

The Pros of Using a Floss Threader to Floss With Braces:

  1. Very Inexpensive – Your orthodontist will likely give you a pack for free (or you can pick some up for a few dollars on Amazon or at a drug store)
  2. Reusable – One pack will likely last you months or years
  3. A Process You’re Already Used To – No special tools are needed, just the threader and floss.

The Cons of using a Floss Threader to Floss With Braces

  1. Tricky To Use At First – This is especially true for younger kids. Using the floss threader requires some hand skills that may prove difficult for young children.
  2. Takes Longer Than Normal Flossing – . Because you have to repeat the process of flossing beneath the wire for every tooth in your mouth, this can be a time consuming process.

Overall, using a floss threader to floss with braces works well and many patients choose this option for its cost-effectiveness. But if you’d like to find a faster or easier option, keep reading below…

How to Floss With Braces Using Superfloss

Superfloss is essentially a piece of floss with one stiff end.

Superfloss to floss braces

Superfloss works similarly to a floss threader, only you don’t need to do the “needle and thread” process. You simply take the stiff end of floss, guide it beneath your archwire, and floss your teeth.  

The Pros of Using a Superfloss to Floss With Braces:

  1. Easier Than a Floss Threader – Most kids and adults figure this method out pretty easily.
  2. Easy To Find – It can be purchased on Amazon or at your local drug store

The Cons of using a Superfloss to Floss With Braces

  1. Also Time Consuming – Because you have to repeat the process of guiding the floss beneath the wire, it does take a little bit of time. 
  2. Not Reusable –  Super floss is a one-time use product, so each day you will use a new piece and throw it away. This product isn’t too expensive, but while you are in braces you will likely need several boxes to get you by. 

Superfloss is a great tool that cleans well. Grab a pack next time you’re at the drug store and try it out for yourself!

How to Floss With Braces Using a Platypus Orthodontic Flosser

Platypus Orthodontic Flossers are one of the quickest, and EASIEST ways to floss with braces. 

Platypus Ortho Flosser

There is no threading required with the platypus orthodontic flossers. The narrow side of the flosser is designed to fit behind the arch wire, allowing you to floss your entire mouth in no more than two minutes (usually less)!

The easiest way to understand how the Platypus Orthodontic Flosser works is to see it in action.  Click below to watch a video about how to floss with braces using the Platypus Orthodontic Flosser.

The Pros of Using a Platypus Orthodontic Flosser to Floss With Braces:

  1. Fastest Method – You can floss your entire mouth in two minutes or less.
  2. No Threading Required –  This makes it easier for young kids who may struggle with the floss threaders on their own.

The Cons of Using a Platypus Orthodontic Flosser to Floss With Braces

  1. Cost More Than Floss Threaders –  The Platypus Orthodontic flossers are a one-time use product, so each day you will use a new flosser and throw it away. This product is still reasonably priced, however,  and you can buy them in larger packages to save money. 
  2. Difficult To Find In-Store – This is most likely a solution you will need to order online.   You can find them on Amazon with free shipping and in multiple package sizes. 

How to Floss With Braces Using a Harp Orthodontic Flosser

The Harp Orthodontic Flosser is very similar to the platypus flosser – it too allows you to floss without threading. You simply guide the small end of the flosser beneath the archwire to floss your entire mouth; no threading required!  

Harp Flosser

Watch the video below to learn more about the harp flosser and to see it in action.

The Pros of Using a Harp Orthodontic Flosser to Floss With Braces:

  1. Quick And Easy –  You can floss your entire mouth in two minutes or less.
  2. No Threading Required – This makes it easier for young kids who may struggle with the floss threaders on their own.
  3. Reusable For Up To A Week – , This means less total flossers you will have to buy throughout the time you have braces.

The Cons of Using a Harp Orthodontic Flosser to Floss With Braces

  1. Cost More Than Floss Threaders – Harp Flossers cost more than floss threaders, but they are still very reasonable.  To get a month’s supply of Harp flossers it comes out to about $5!
  2. Difficult To Find – They can’t be found at local drug stores or on Amazon, but you can order them direct on the Harp company website. 

How to Floss With Braces Using a Waterpik or Water Flosser

A Waterpik is a popular brand of water flosser.  A water flosser is a device that delivers a stream of pressurized pulsating water between your teeth, along the gum line, and around your braces.  If you find that string floss, no matter the type,  is too difficult to do on a daily basis, then a water flosser might be a good choice for you!


In addition to cleaning between your teeth like floss, a water flosser can also help remove food debris along the gum and around the braces. Watch the video below to see how a water flosser can help you floss with braces and keep your braces clean.

The Pros of Using a Waterpik or Water Flosser to Floss With Braces:

  1. No String Required –  If you or your child struggles with string floss, a water flosser is likely the best answer. It’s quick, easy and lets you floss your entire mouth in two minutes or less.
  2. Helps Around The Braces And Gum Line  – String floss just can’t get to these areas.
  3. Easy To Find – You can pick Waterpiks or water flossers up at your local drug store or online.
  4. One-Time Investment – One unit will last the entire time you’re in braces—plus a long time after that! This is also the most eco-friendly choice, as it allow you to entirely eliminate trash waste from your flossing routine.

The Cons of Using a Waterpik or Water Flosser to Floss With Braces

  1. Most Expensive – Portable units start around $30, and counter top units may cost up to $70. But remember, you never have to replace it while you’re wearing braces.
  2. Not Portable –  A water flosser does require you to be near a sink in order to use it.

No matter which type of floss you choose . . . there’s no doubt that flossing with braces is crucial to maintaining healthy teeth, healthy gums, and avoiding bad breath with braces. 

With the tools listed above, you’ll find it easier and less time consuming than ever to floss with braces.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *