loves a bright white smile, and there are a variety of products
and procedures available to help you improve the look of yours.
For more than a decade, the ADA (American Dental Association)
Council on Scientific Affairs has monitored the development
and the increasing numbers of whitening oral hygiene products.
As the market for these products grew, the Association recognized
a need for uniform definitions when discussing whiteners.
example, "whitening" is any process that will make teeth
appear whiter. This can be achieved in two ways:
can bleach the tooth, which means that it actually changes the
natural tooth color. Bleaching products contain peroxide that
help remove deep and surface stains.
can also contain agents that work by physical or chemical action
to help remove surface stains only.
Whitening products may be administered or dispensed by dentists
or purchased over-the-counter (OTC) and can be categorized into
two major groups, Peroxide-containing whiteners or bleaching agents,
and Whitening toothpastes.
or "Bleaching Agents"
can take several approaches to whiten your smile:
toothpastes in the ADA Seal of Acceptance program contain polishing
or chemical agents to improve tooth appearance by removing surface
stains through gentle polishing, chemical chelation, or some other
non-bleaching action. Several whitening toothpastes that are available
OTC have received the ADA Seal of Acceptance. This seal is generally
displayed on the packaging of the product.Dentist-dispensed and
The dentist-dispensed products usually contain 10 percent carbamide
peroxide, which is the most commonly used active ingredient in
home-use tooth bleaching products. All of the products in this
category that bear the ADA Seal of Acceptance contain 10 percent
carbamide peroxide; however, participation in the program is not
limited to products of this concentration. Although bleaching
agents are available OTC, only those dispensed through the dental
office are considered for the Seal because professional consultation
is important to the procedure's safety and effectiveness.
In a water-based solution, carbamide peroxide breaks down into
hydrogen peroxide and urea, with hydrogen peroxide being the active
bleaching agent. Other ingredients of peroxide-containing tooth
whiteners may include glycerin, carbopol, sodium hydroxide and
Accumulated clinical data on neutral pH 10 percent carbamide peroxide
continue to support both the safety and effectiveness of this
kind of tooth-whitening agent. The most commonly observed side
effects to hydrogen or carbamide peroxide are tooth sensitivity
and occasional irritation of the soft tissues in the mouth, particularly
the gums. Tooth sensitivity often occurs during early stages of
bleaching treatment. Tissue irritation, in most cases, results
from an ill-fitting tray rather than the tooth-bleaching agents.
Both of these conditions usually are temporary and stop after
are many professionally applied tooth whitening bleach products.
These products use hydrogen peroxide in concentrations ranging
from 15 percent to 35 percent and are sometimes used together
with a light or laser, which reportedly accelerates the whitening
to application of professional products, gum tissues are isolated
either with a rubber dam or a protective gel. The professional
procedure is usually completed in about one hour. Currently,
all of the professionally applied whiteners that have the
ADA Seal contain 35 percent hydrogen peroxide, although this
concentration is not a requirement of the program.
with the 10 percent home-use carbamide peroxide bleach products,
the most commonly observed side effects of professionally
applied hydrogen peroxide products are temporary tooth sensitivity
and occasional irritation of oral tissues. On rare occasions,
irreversible tooth damage has been reported.The ADA advises
patients to consult with their dentists to determine the most
appropriate treatment. This is especially important for patients
with many fillings, crowns, and extremely dark stains. A thorough
oral examination, performed by a licensed dentist, is essential
to determine if bleaching is an appropriate course of treatment.
The dentist then supervises the use of bleaching agents within
the context of a comprehensive, appropriately sequenced treatment