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The Intense Pain of Zoom Whitening for Teeth

Updated on August 11, 2011

Or as they say 'OUCH! OUCH!'

In researching my recent hub on teeth whitening scams I came across something called zoom teeth whitening. For the uninformed or just plain uninterested, zoom teeth whitening is effectively a brand of cosmetic teeth whitening procedure. As with a number of other procedures, the main ingredient (so to speak) is hydrogen peroxide - bleach to you and me.

What apparently makes the zoom teeth whitening method so special is the use of the ‘Zoom!’ lamp, which I’m guessing is some kind of UV lamp to activate the oxidation process which is supposedly more effective. As you may have guessed there is little or no scientific evidence to back up this claim.

In fact, it is worse that that. Using UV light is actually dangerous to your gums, skin and eyes. A UV lamp gives four times as much radiation exposure as sunbathing outdoors.

All of this is bad new if you’re looking to upgrade your off-whites to pearly-whites. However, what really catches the eye is the number of reports of intense pain following the procedure.

Now as a quick and lazy legal disclaimer in these lawsuit-riven times I am (probably) obliged to say that I have never used zoom teeth whitening (and never intend to) and therefore I am merely reporting the alleged pain experienced by hundreds of people following their experiences with zoom.

Anyway, internet reports have described this pain as being ‘extreme’, ‘intense’ and lasting anywhere up to 24 hours. This hilarious thread gives a few choice quotes, my favourite of which are:

‘If you were thinking of having your dentist whiten your teeth using the Zoom System—don't do it!’

‘BUT - I have to say that the shooting pain is the worst!... There is no warning and it takes me by surprise and the reflex is that my whole body jerks in pain’

‘I'm just afraid to put anything in my mouth now!’

‘The pain actually makes me tear up and freeze in pain’ (sic)

The pain is ridiculous. Don't do it please.’

‘I don't cry often at all, and this has definatly (sic) gotten me weeping in pain.’

‘I was starved as I cooked my meal HERE CAME THE DREADFUL SHARP PAINS! ALL I CAN SAY IS OUCH!OUCH!’ (sic)

Of course, a number of these people also go on to state something along the lines of ‘it was totally worth it!!!’, so perhaps take the quotes with a pinch of salt.

The point about the intense pain of this procedure having been made, I just want to take some time to sneer at the claims made by zoom, the most ridiculous of which is that that this product will make your teeth an average of 8 shades whiter. How many shades of white are there? Maybe its because I’m a guy but I’d say you’ve got white, a bit less white and not really that white and that’s pretty much it. After that I would say that you’re definitely into grey, possibly light grey.

Funnily enough, some quote-unquote ‘satisfied customers’ go out of their way to claim 9 or even 10 shades of white improvement as though this actually means something.

The main message of this admittedly fairly ramshackle hub is that teeth bleaching is silly, teeth whitening using UV light is actually dangerous and that there are tons of reports that zoom whitening in particular is intensely painful, as in major-surgery-without-anaesthetic-and-conducted-by-a-drunk-man-with-a-hacksaw-and-wire-clothes-hanger-painful (that may be an exaggeration).

If you really want whiter teeth, get a decent toothpaste, cut down on the cigarettes, coffee and red wine. That’s all folks.


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      gepeTooRs 20 months ago

      Although you might look at spending that much money as a waste, you should consider it as more of

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      Casey 23 months ago

      I had zoom done in July 2015, here it is 8 months later and this procedure has ruined my life. I still have extreme sensitivity to foods. It is so bad I have lost 20 lbs. I can't drink or eat anything acidic. Don't sounds so bad? Well, here is an example, vinegar is super acidic. I can't eat anything with it in it which includes, mayo, mustard, salad dressing, ketchup, salsa, steak sauce, bbq sauce, more fruit, no fruit juices, cola, coffee and on and on. It had destroyed my life. I have used every toothpaste under the sun, even bought toothpastes overseas that aren't available here, nothing helps. I hope this helps someone make a decision to not go through with this. I wish I had heard this before I had this done.

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      Sarah 2 years ago

      I just had zoom whiting done 10 hours ago and I swear the pain is getting worse! I have never ever felt pain like this..ever.. I was in no way preped for this pain. I promise you I would have never done this if I had known. My dentist never informed me of the potential possible pain. I would urge you not to do this. It is not worth it. I am learning a valuable life lesson and that is to accept yourself for who you are. Make healthy life decisions.. less stress..more sleep and more self love and acceptance. I wish I would not have done this. today I stop aiming for's too painful!

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      rtbaseball 2 years ago

      I had Zoom back in January 2014. I did feel the "Zing's that day but they disappeared by the next morning. However, over the next couple of weeks I began to experience a dry mouth. It has been a year and since, has become terribly worse. I have seen several different types of doctors (dentists, oral surgeon, ENT, gastroenterologist, allergist…etc.) with no answers. All tests come back normal. I don't know if the Zoom caused it but all I know is my dry mouth issue started shortly afterwards. Anyone else have any long-term problem with the Zoom that relate to mine?

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      Johnny Wanna Live 3 years ago

      12 hours after the Zoom procedure. 3000 mg Tylenol already... the pain is excruciating ! Can't eat, can't speak, can't sleep ! I'll never do it again !

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      Edward Smith 3 years ago

      I had Zoom3 done about an hour ago. I did three 15 minute intervals. Luckily the dentist I was at was playing relaxing music so I was practically mediating in the chair but mainly because I was bored and uncomfortable. Half way through the second 15 minute interval I started to realise this will not be a painless walk in the park as I experienced Afew zingers just for a taste of what's to come. The third round starts.. It was dreadful and the pain was immense. I honestly thought I was on a torture chair chained in by the mouth. The feelings are like lightning bolts from hell uncontrollable shots through which ever tooth it feels like. The ones that shoot once then go away are bad enough but when all your teeth are in the pain it sucks. Now an hour or so after I've eaten an all white subway and taken panadol with codeine in it, watching the football whilst drinking beer through a straw. The results are quite astonishing though, if your really keen for Hollywood White teeth go do it because there is light at the end of the zoom tunnel, but my god does it bloody hurt.

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      Candice 4 years ago

      I had Zoom! done 4 hours ago and let me say that the pain was horrible. I didn't get the burning of the gums, but at the very end of my 2nd session I got a deep painful zinger and took it as a fluke. I informed the dentist about it cause she asked and she said the 3rd session was the last one and did I think I could go through it I said I would try so yes I did, but not without gripping the arms of the dentist chair with all my might or clasping my hands together and letting out groans. The dentist came back and I had 2 minutes to go and she said I looked extremely tense and asked if I wanted to quit....I shook my head yes so she cut it off. I almost completed it all. So anyway, 4 hours later and after 2 advil and a lortab Im mostly ok with a few zingers here and there, but I am trying to keep my mouth closed and breath through my nose, not talking unless I have to, drinking through a straw and whatnot. Fighting this excruciating pain has left me exhausted so when I do decided to go to sleep I hope I can. It whitened my teeth like you would not believe, but I would NEVER do this again. Ill just stick with my smoke stained teeth and be ok with it as I was before. They talked me into it because they shaved 300 dollars off of the price. I don't care of it had been 50 bucks it is not worth pain it puts people through and trust me I don't think I had it as worse as some others. Only my bottom teeth were heavily effected. My top teeth tingled a little, but its not really bothersome. They sent me home with MI Paste and some custom made mouth trays and this is supposed to help with the sensitivity issue which they sent me home with it in my mouth and I was so scared of even removing the trays from my teeth, but it wound up being fine as these zingers and pain were coming mostly at random or if I breathed through my mouth. They also sent me home with an at home post maintenance whitening kit for a touch up, but the instructions are vague on how much to use and how many times. If not for the money involved with this I probably wouldn't even use the touch up kit cause now Im deathly afraid its going to cause a similar problem. As a previous poster said it feels like electric shocks through your teeth and that they are hooked up to an electric chair and the pain at times can stop you in your tracks. I looked like a spastic person who had facial ticks and made lots of weird moans and groans. If people still go through with this procedure just be aware and hope you have some time to stay at home to endure all this or better hope you are one of the lucky ones who don't feel any of that pain.

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      Mylindaminka 4 years ago

      Рассказ считается таким же культовым, как «Чайка по имени Джонатан Ливингстон» Баха, хотя менее философский, а более психологический (а точнее – сентиментальный). Ещё он более фантастический (в привычном понимании фантастики), но при этом тоже несколько притчевый. Яркость его нельзя не признать: в таком коротеньком рассказике уместилась вся сознательная (и, надо признать, трагическая) жизнь главного героя. Произведение запоминается, оно действительно своеобразно и выбивается из ряда других фантастических рассказов.

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      tooth man 4 years ago

      i had it done...ya it sucks...but my teeth look a lot better....I'm now going to drink beer through a straw, some Vicodin and knock myself out...And you can take that to the bank!!

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      ligeAnnence 4 years ago

      My partner and i used to get high on lifestyle yet recently We have built up a new level of resistance.

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      KS 5 years ago

      I have just had Zoom done. I realised after the horrible pain of the zings that the reason the dentists don't tell you it will hurt so badly is that no-one would do it. They bullshit to you saying you'll feel tingling. Sorry, its the most extreme tooth pain imaginable, and too frequent to bear. Mine started in the first 15 min session - and the dentist literally could not do the third session due to the tooth pain. So my teeth whitened slightly, but not enough. She gave me the take home pack and reduced my bill by a third. In retrospect I wish I had done the home bleaching option instead, as it cost a third of the price of Zoom and gets the same results in two weeks. I would never advise family or friends to do this, its awful. And I don't appreciate the company lying blatantly.

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      Sn 5 years ago

      It has been 24 hours since i had zoom done. 4 / 15 minute sessions. I am under soo much pain! I have NEVER felt pain like this before. Do not do this!! You won't know what to do with yourself and the inmense pain at 2am that doesn't go away.

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      Dont Do it 5 years ago

      Just did my Zoom in Office treatment yesterday - PAINFUL PAINFUL PAINFUL!!! I was screaming in the chair in pain yet the DR would say . 5 mins to the session end and keep me going at it - i finally got through the 60 mins of treatment and the first words out of my mouth was I AM NEVER DOING THIS AGAIN!!! It's not worth the pain - it's so terrible. The zapping sensitivity pain was all night - it hits you unexpectedly and worse - none of the painkillers of desensitising gel worked .... barely got any sleep last night as I woke up every few hours in pain ... just came back from the dentist this morning complaining about the pain and she said it's perfectly normal.

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      GP 5 years ago

      I had a Groupon for Zoom! whitening (for $150!) and decided to get it done for my upcoming wedding. The dentist required a consultation (free) where he told me about the potential sensitivity and recommended I get and use a fluoride-containing toothpaste (I think it was 2% fluoride - $15) twice a day leading up to the procedure.

      I took 1000mg of tylenol an hour before the procedure and felt some zings in the 2nd 15 minutes and several in the 3rd round, though not unbearable (I was also watching distracting TV). Took 600mg of motrin 1 hours later when I read online it was better for tooth pain and I feel ok. They also applied something to my gums and I haven't experienced any burning or other sensation there. I completed the procedures 2 hours ago and have had random zings here and there but nothing unbearable. Not sure what it would feel like without the motrin...and I don't plan on finding out!

      Would I do it again for full price? Probably not. But for $200 or less I would! Though I am going to try to maintain the amazing results I received with trays.

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      irkan 5 years ago

      gone through zoom 4 hours ago, i experineced zingers during second and third session, it wasn't THAT bad, after the whole thing finished i experienced about 5 to 6 saperate zingers, one or two were freezingly painful, but now after 4 hours, pain has gone, i was able to eat cut apple, my teeth are 2 or 3 shades whiter.

      the whole procedule is very uncomfortable, so would i do it again? No.

      If you haven't tried it yet, should you do it? if you really really really want a little whiter teeth really bad than go for it, otherwise if its just for kicks, than skip it.

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      Cristina 5 years ago

      To Agota: "Us people" haven't done anything wrong. Everyone has teeth with different sensitivities, and you were simply one of the lucky ones.

      To everyone else who has is now experiencing the PAIN...

      just wanted to share with you the fact that if you can get to sleep - you won't feel the pain:) Happily, most of the pain was gone when I woke up this morning and I can only feel a bit of a tingle on the tips of a few teeth. Hope this helps!! (Oh, and swishing lots of cold water in my mouth seemed to numb the pain of the zingers!!)

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      Agota 5 years ago

      I don't know what you people have done, but I haven't feel a thing! I have got my teeth whitened with laser 2 days ago and I would do it again anytime. My dentist gave me sunglasses, isolated my gums with a blue gel so it was totally safe. Keep in mind that every in-office procedure is far more safe then what you could do yourself at home! Today's medicine is about keeping the teeth healthy, not about destructing them.

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      Cristina 5 years ago

      Just had it done three and a half hours ago. My upper row of teeth are experiencing just a mild, tolerable ache. The bottom row however are killing me. Took some Advil and used some rapid relief toothpaste. Neither is working. My teeth were only a shade lighter afterwards. I had used Crest Whitestrips before with no pain, so I highly recommend going that route as opposed to ZOOM!

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      Mic 5 years ago

      It's me again...just providing an update. It's been around 11 hours now and the pain has not subsided at all. I've tried drinking luke warm water, rubbing vaseline on my teeth, freezing my gums with oral analgesic gel...nothing helps. I did take some T3s which provided minor relief for a brief hour. The only thing that has helped me feel better at all and forget about the intense pain is watching an entire season of Californication. ha...

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      Mic 5 years ago

      I got Zoom whitening 5 hours ago. Ever since I have been experiencing the most excruciating pain I could imagine. It's not my gums that hurt, it is the actual teeth. The electric pain is constant for me, I can't think about anything else. I can't imagine eating, I am barely okay to breathe as I'm terrified of the air hitting my teeth. I had no idea that this procedure could cause such immense sensitivity and aching. Please DO NOT DO IT!!!! You will regret it. Yes, my teeth look much whiter but it is definitely not worth it.

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      San 5 years ago

      I just did this 6 hours ago .I feel like dying ... The worst pain ever awful ....I wish i could ready this before :( Oh gosh

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      Die Zoom!!!! 5 years ago

      OMG. I got mine done at 4 PM and it is now a little over 4 hours later. This is awful, awful. No white teeth are worth this horrible pain. They kept saying they didn't anticipate any problems and the consent form said there was a slight chance of some sensitivity. It didn't say it would be shooting, electric pains dancing around from tooth to tooth...a torturous piano of pain. I will *never* get this done again. The motrin has not helped and now I plan to take a couple of Motrin PMs so I can sleep. Hopefully (please God) this torture will have departed by the morning. Ow, Ow,Ow!

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      Riss 5 years ago

      I had mine done this morning and if I had known what I would be going through now I never would have done it. Holy shit it's agony. Now I'm starving, afraid to eat and I have to go into work in 20 minutes. This is the worst.

      The pain is not in my gums from the bleach. They burned a little at the beginning, but that went away fast. It's my actually TEETH hurting. It started about 5 minutes into the last treatment. It's been 6 hours and I want to cry.

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      Juan 5 years ago


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      Danielle 5 years ago

      I had my whitening done 9 hours ago and right now I am in soooo much pain nothing alleviates it. Everyone says they look great. I went through the 3 15 min sessions with no sensitivity but about 3 hours ago-WOW MAJOR PAIN. worse than child birth.

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      5 years ago

      In regards to the pain... I went through it. What I learned is that in most teeth whitening products there is hydrogen peroxide. If this gets on your gums it causes not only pain... But it also isn't good for you. So if done by a true professional, and the help of sensodyne toothpaste, you should be fine.

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      Ko 5 years ago

      This is one of the worst pain experiences I have had in my whole life. Do NOT do this. Seriously. My entire mouth feels like my teeth have been bruised. Just lying in bed praying for this pain to pass!:(

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      Tara 6 years ago

      I just got this done. My God I am is agonizing pain!!!! DON'T DO THIS!!! THE PAIN IS HORRIBLE! now all I want is something to help me!!!

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      Erin 6 years ago

      I wish SO BADLY that I had read this yesterday. Last night I did Zoom and I would not wish this upon anyone! Paralyzing shots on white hot pain every 15-30 seconds for the better part of 8 hours and today, it’s a constant pain. It hurts to talk because every time I open my mouth the air touches my teeth. I read someone describe it as "electric" pain and that's RIGHT ON THE MONEY! I was told that I "might" experience "zingers." Isn't "zingers" a cute word to describe a blinding, unbearable pain??? Nothing is worth this.

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      stopZinging 6 years ago

      So, irradiating an already toxic substance (hydrogen peroxide)not only completely DEHYDRATES the mucosa (gums), but also causes an electric current to run thruout until the ions re-stabilize. PAIN is absolute!! THIS MIGHT HELP...slather Vaseline on 2 long/skinny pieces of gauze so that u can wrap each around the entirety of teeth both upper and lower jaw. You need to interrupt the current, basically "ground" your mouth, and the gauze will act as insulation from the Zings while the vaseline helps to keep the gums lubricated, thus not receding. That receding is why even breathing air hurts like he##! The surface area being exposed has been protected for the life of the tooth FOR A REASON! Use Sensodyne prior if ur gonna Zoom...GROUND & LUBE YOUR MOUTH after if u didn't!

      Hope this helps someone.

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      zoom believer 6 years ago

      If done correctly there is no " absolute pain" in fact prior to the procedure i was told to brush with sensodyne toothpaste for a week prior, and if during the procedure there was any discomfort to advise the dental assistant or whom ever is performing the procedure to stop the process. maybe it's the dental provider providing the service. My teeth went 3 shades whiter whith no sensitivity.

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      Neil 6 years ago

      I had my second appointment today for this Zoom thing, the first being a week ago. It took about 36 hours for me to feel I was back to normal, so I anticipate the same this time. I was hesitant to do it at all, and researched it but since it seemed this popular procedure did not have any reports of serious, long term detrimental effects, went ahead with it. I wasn't sure whether to have the follow up appointment but the first results were good in terms of whitening. But I stopped today's second procedure earlier as it seemed the pain was more severe.

      My philosophy is that I listen to my body when my body complains about something, and it's complaining about this. Pain is a message and I'm interpreting this message as, "do not do this again". Teeth are definitely whiter and I'm pleased about that but while absence of pain does not necessarily indicate safety, I would encourage others to find an alternate means of whitening if that is indeed desired.

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      Tooth Fairy 6 years ago

      Absolutely ridiculous amount of PAIN!!!! From the moment the UV light went on my teeth I felt the most intense pain I have ever felt A ZING... Can only be described as someone smashing a glass bottle in your mouth and then making you crunch down on all of the shards while at the same time having your teeth strapped to an electric chair (an understatement of the pain)... What was very very disappointing is the fact that the dentist did not make any attempt to disclose the POSSIBILITY of experiencing this amount of pain. LOL you are only told 5% or so patients experience very mild pain... WHAT A JOKE! the pain was absolutely menstrual!!!! BUYER BEWARE

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      Carly 6 years ago

      Seriously cried my eyes out in the dentists office...Couldn't even talk cause every time air hit my teeth, sharp shooting pains all over my teeth started from how bad the pain was. Don't do it.

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      Tina 6 years ago

      My dentist did NOT warn me about the severe pain after I had this done. It was the most intense pain I have ever experienced. I am reading a lot of stories like this and this company "Zoom" should have consent form of some kind prior. I am outraged more so at "Zoom" than my dentist!

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      Rachel 6 years ago

      I just had zoom done 2 hours ago. I was trying not to scream the entire drive home. My eyes were tearing up from the pain. I have white rings around a few of my teeth from the bleach getting on my gums and the pain of that is insane. The zings are so terribly painful I jerk up try not to scream at someone and they last, for me, up to 30 seconds. My teeth (on the little scale) went from 5 to 1, but I was also told my white spots that I had from a calcium deficiency would be a lot less noticeable, but they are stark white against my average colored teeth. Terrible. Waste of 700 dollars for just whiter teeth. Wish I wouldn't have done it.

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      johanna 6 years ago

      Oh my goodness what have I done its been 3 hours since zoom and the zings are flipping zinging oh shit hear comes another and I only lasted one session my teeth were chimeing stick to home bleaching so so painful wish I read these comments first

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      Holly 6 years ago

      I'm on hour 10 since my 1hr zoom whitening. I wish my teeth had just been pulled out and replaced with whiter ones it would have been easier. I have never, read never, had sensitivity issues before with any over the counter whiteners. But this is SO not worth it.

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      painpainpain 6 years ago

      I had this done about 5 hours ago and I hope and pray by posting this I get through to at least one person before they have to live this nightmare. I had my wisdom teeth cut out about 6 months ago and in comparison I would cut every tooth in my head out before going through the zoom again. I could punch my face it hurts so bad and to beat it all I'm starved. I'm thinkning there has to be legal reprecussions for not disclosing the pain side effects. I'm miserable!!!!!!

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      Charlotte Agnes 7 years ago

      I have a luma light tooth whitening machine that I have used on myself and on my husband and we have had no problems. My husband is not one to try different things but he let me do the tooth whitening on his teeth and no problems and no pain. He was pleased with the result!!! Nice and white teeth!!!

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      Maryc 7 years ago

      I had this procedure done about 9 hours ago. The burning on my gums was so extreme I quit half way through the laser procedure. Ever since the 'zings' in my teeth are as bad as any pain I have felt. I too was told of possible tingling & heat sensitivity, but nothing on this scale. I took th dentist's information & consent form at face value & didn't research online until now. If I had known this was a POSSIBILITY there is NO WAY I would have voluntarily put myself through this hell. The results are good, even with half the treatment, but I am regretting having this done. How can it be legal for the dentist to not disclose the possible pain??

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      russ 7 years ago

      Had this done yesterday, now for me it may be a little different as I have always abused my teeth and I am very use to toooth pain, my enamel is very thin but i counted this by using sensodyne the month previous to the treat men. i set a record in the dentist for amount of time lasting the procedure, it is not exactly pain free but the zings aren't too bad the worst bit i had is the burning feeling during the first 5 minutes and the jaw ache from the contraption. For me though i would do it again tommrow no hesitation if i thought my teeth would go whiter still i went from a8 to a2 so i am happy and by god it certainly is worth the pain. Now after one night the zings ahave stopped i just have a little sore gums

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      Jo Jo 7 years ago

      I had this treatment done about 3 hours ago and the pain in my teeth is horrible. It started during the first 15 minutes and i thought i would never have gotten through the next 30 minutes. It wasn't very pleasant at all. The minute i walked outside and the air hit my teeth i was in agony and although the pain has lessend a little, the sharp pains are still coming. However my teeth are very white and look well but my dentsit never informed me of the pain beforehand, maybe just as well because i don't know if i'd do it again.

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      Dan 7 years ago

      I had this done about six months ago. I still have night terrors about the extreme pain after the procedure. The pain was so intense and sharp, I'd rather have been stuck in a prison cell with big bubba....

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      Gill Grange 7 years ago

      I have just experienced this whitening procedure - approx 6 hours ago - results are amazing but would I do it again? NEVER....It is probably the most agonising mouth pain you can imagine - electric shock pains randomly occuring in each tooth with out warning - so bad you stop dead, can't speak and feel like punching your own face. Apparently these pains are called zingers. Only another hour until I can take the next high powered painkiller - bring it on! Don't do it - ubless you think you can cope with the pain.

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      nicole 7 years ago

      Thanks for the warning. I pre-paid already and today is my appointment for the Zoom, I am going to see if I can get a refund. After ready all the reviews concerning the zoom I am scared out of my socks to go through with this procedure. I hope and pray they give me my money back. I really think The Lord showed up on time for me!!!!!

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      WRKennedy 8 years ago from Canada

      Thanks for the warning!