The Council on Scientific Affairs of the American Dental Association or ADA has been following closely the development of whitening products. And the demand for these products is increasing greatly. ADA recognizes the importance of setting down standard definitions when talking about tooth whitening products.

“Whitening”, for example, us the process that will render the teeth whiter or atleast make it appear whiter. There are 2 ways that can achieve this. One is actually changing the natural tooth color, making it whiter. Bleaching products contain peroxide which not only removes surface or extrinsic discoloration but also the acts to penetrate the deep or intrinsic stains. On the other hand, non-bleaching products only have agents that only remove surface stains by chemical or physical action.

These products can be dispensed and/or administered by a dentist or bought by the patient directly from a drugstore, which is called over-the-counter products. All of these can be divided into 2 major groups.

Peroxide-containing whiteners or bleaching agents

Whitening products and for home-use OTC products carrying the ADA Seal of Acceptance contain 10% carbamide peroxide. But there are also compliant non-members and the consumers are left with many options to choose from. ADA advices people to consult their dentist first before applying any bleaching solution.

For water-based whitening solutions, hydrogen peroxide-the active ingredient-is

produced as a by-product by the breakdown of a carbamide peroxide. The other by-product is urea. The other ingredients of tooth bleachers that contains peroxide are: carbopol, sodium hydroxide, glycerine and flavoring agents.

Carbamide peroxide has a neutral pH of 10 and so is trusted as a safe and effective bleacher. The only common side effects of using carbamide peroxide or hydrogen are tooth sensitivity and irritation in the oral mucosa or the soft tissues in the mouth specifically the gums. During the early stages of the whitening treatment, tooth sensitivity is often observed. Tissue irritation, more often than not, is caused by an ill-fitted nightguard or tray and not by the bleaching agents themselves. These two side effects are only temporary though.

For whitening products that are professionally administered, there are also many kinds. The concentrations of the hydrogen peroxide contained in these products range from 15 percent to 35 percent. These are often used with a light or laser that accelerates the whitening action. Utilizing a rubber dam or protective gel, gum tissues are isolated before the products are applied. Unlike products uses at home which takes up to 4 weeks before any visible signs of improvement are seen, professionally administered bleachers works in just about an hour.

Whitening toothpastes

Also known as dentrifices by oral health care professionals, whitening toothpastes with the ADA Seal of Acceptance contain chemical agents act as a polisher by removing surface discoloration to affect tooth whitening.

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