Zoom Teeth Whitening

Posted on: January 11, 2011

Due to good dental hygiene and care as a child (and perhaps as well to the addition of fluoride to the water I drank!) my teeth are in pretty good shape — only one very small cavity that was filled in my late teens, and oral surgery to remove my wisdom teeth since my mouth was too small to accommodate them.  I thank the stars at every cleaning for having healthy teeth.

Putting that gratitude aside for a moment, I confess that for years I’ve not been happy about two things:  one, the overbite that needs correcting, and two, the yellow tinge brought on by my daily coffee intake.  I also have a vivid memory, long before Crest Whitestrips appeared in the drugstore aisle, a young person of about 7 or 8 years of age telling me in that matter-of-fact way that kids have, “your teeth are yellow.”

Sure, I’ve tried whitening strips and other topical treatments, and of course several toothpastes claiming to whiten teeth. but none got me to celebrity-teeth-that-can-reflect-UV-light levels, and I’ve always wanted to try something more high-tech. 

Many dentists offer hydrogen peroxide gel in trays that you can wear for 30 minutes a day, but I wanted something even more cool (and less messy and cumbersome!), so when I saw a Groupon for a discount rate on two Zoom Teeth Whitening Treatments at a dental practice in my city, I jumped at the chance, and figured I could blog about my personal experience.

I note here that I bought the Groupon on my own, with my own money.   

It’s very important to also let my readers know that when I arrived to receive my treatment at the dental clinic offering the discount, I was informed that the Groupon would only cover two treatments of 15 minutes each.  My own research after my time in the dental chair has shown me that the standard is three treatments.  Since I chose not to pay above and beyond my Groupon for a third treatment, my whitening level was not maximized, and at the same time the possibility of post-treatment sensitivity was reduced.

Zoom claims to be safe for tooth enamel and has the results of a positive clinical trial on their website.

What Happened in the Chair

Once I got settled in, the hygienist explained how Zoom Whitening works.  A large, open mouth guard is inserted into the mouth to expose the teeth (admittedly, at first I was nervous that this would be painful, but other than initial discomfort from the mouth being stretched in a way that isn’t usual, it looked worse than it felt — no pain at all).  After protective cotton and gel is applied to the gums and inside of the mouth to protect them from the bleaching process, the whitening gel is applied and a special Zoom light is brought to the mouth opening to activate the gel.   You simply lie back and relax while the light and the whitening gel go to work to break up and remove stains.

A whiter smile in 30 minutes in a one-time dental visit?  I was in.

Having cotton barriers placed inside the mouth was the most uncomfortable part of the prep, but it wasn’t painful.  The gel that protects the gumline should be applied by the technician or hygienist in between any significant gaps between the teeth and cover any recessed gum areas.  Gum recessions must be covered since the exposed root area can be damaged by the Zoom light and the whitening gel, leading to severe hot/cold sensitivity in the teeth.   The protective gel is hardened using a special handheld light and is later removed after the Zoom treatments are completed.  When being removed from my teeth after the procedure, the barrier felt like hard flexible plastic.

The hygienist also applied a heavy-duty lip balm to my mouth to protect it from overdrying during the treatment.  I would recommend to anyone getting this treatment to make sure they are using a good lip balm for a few days before hand to prevent the lips from drying/cracking.

The whitening gel was applied to my teeth, the Zoom light was brought to my mouth opening and the first 15-minute treatment began.  The light felt warm but not uncomfortable.  I actually dozed off for a minute!  Once the first 15 minutes were up, the hygienist checked the gumline barriers, added a bit more whitening gel, and started the second treatment.

Getting Out of the Chair

Some patients experience some pain after treatment (as if their teeth were zapped by a laser) and/or gum inflammation.  Hot/cold sensitivity is also common for 24-32 hours after Zoom.  In my case, these side effects were mild, perhaps because I only received 2 instead of 3 treatments .  My teeth felt super smooth and “exposed” for 24 hours, but I could eat and drink normally.  During the treatment there was one area that definitely felt more “zapped” and I was just about to say something (as best you can say anything with your mouth being held open by a plastic guard!)  when my second session ended.  I found myself wondering if there would have been real pain if I’d had a third treatment. 

The clinic gave me Sensodyne toothpaste to use following the Zoom treatments, and emphasized that I should stay away from coffee, red wine, tea, and sodas for a week since the teeth are more vulnerable to staining immediately following the Zoom treatment.  I tried to wear my usual night guard (prescribed for my teeth clenching in my sleep!) that evening but it just didn’t feel comfortable, as if the teeth were a little raw and couldn’t have something sitting on top of them all night.  I was able to wear my night guard the following night as normal.

And were my teeth whiter?  Yes, but only by 2 shades — certainly less than Zoom’s claim of up to 8 shades lighter being possible.  Again, this result was likely affected by the fact that I only had 2 treatments.  On my bottom teeth where I have more gum recession, the barriers left me with yellow at the root, but since since this isn’t an area normally seen when smiling or talking I wasn’t too concerned.  Interestingly, a few hours after the treatment, I could have sworn that my teeth were even whiter than when I left the dentist’s office!  But, with a difference of only 2 shades, I was unable to get a camera pic of my whiter teeth that showed adequately what I was seeing in the mirror.

The next day I told my coworker about the procedure and he said my teeth looked nice and white and confirmed they still looked good 5 days later.  Now at the 7-day mark, I can say that my teeth are still not so white as to reflect the light of the moon at night, but overall I’m happy with the results.  If I wished to achieve a higher level of whitening without going through another Zoom treatment, I could have opted to pay for the peroxide gel trays to wear once a day for 30 minutes.  The hygienist also said that I could go back to using strips and over-the-counter topical treatments to help maintain the new shade.

Giving up my morning coffee  for a week proved to be the hardest thing about the experience, and since I can’t give up my favorite foods and beverages forever, I’m now using a whitening toothpaste system by SuperSmile to help maintain my teeth whiteness.   My teeth may never be as white as Brad Pitt’s, but they look pretty good.

Now if I can just get Invisalign with a good Groupon discount to correct that overbite! …


I am lucky enough to live in a city where Groupon offers fantastic discounts on everything from restaurants to beauty treatments to dental care.


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    • lilmakeuptips: Thanks for your comment! I got your note on the smoky eye and will do a post on the topic soon!
    • Wicked Red: You look REALLY good in those Lil. Thanks for sharing.
    • lilmakeuptips: Thank you so much Emil! I hope to have a New Year's makeup blog entry posted tomorrow ... maybe even a webcam if I can get it done ...


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