Teeth Whitening Products, Explained


Today's blog will discuss traditional whitening products, which use peroxides to remove deep stains.  These gels, trays, or pens are still the most commonly used products; and are considered the most effective on the market.

With all the whitening kits available online; you, the consumer are left wondering how to compare between products.  First, let's identify what makes dental whitening products different, the active ingredient. Whitening products that use peroxides either contain Hydrogen Peroxide or Carbamide Peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is an effective whitening product alone. Carbamide peroxide contains hydrogen peroxide at a ratio of 1:3. For example, a product with 30% carbamide peroxide has about 10% hydrogen peroxide.

So what's the difference?  Hydrogen peroxide breaks down faster than carbamide peroxide, so it releases most of its whitening power within 30–60 minutes. Carbamide peroxide, on the other hand, releases about 50% of its whitening power in the first two hours and can remain active for up to six additional hours. 

Have you ever tried to whiten your teeth, without any results? While there could be many reasons, proper use and knowing which type of peroxide you're using could make a big difference. If you used a weak Carbamide peroxide product for only 30 minutes, the peroxide did not have enough time to work.  Hydrogen peroxide will whiten in minutes, while Carbamide peroxide will take hours.  

So why does Carbamide peroxide exist if it takes longer and most people prefer a shorter treatment time?  For one, Carbamide peroxide has a longer shelf life. Any expired peroxide will not work.  Also, for certain individuals with deeper staining; a longer whitening session will be more effective.

Here are recommended wear times for different strength peroxides:

10% Hydrogen peroxide            30-60 minutes/day

15% Hydrogen peroxide            15-20 minutes/day

10% Carbamide peroxide            8-10 hours

15% Carbamide peroxide            4-6 hours

20% Carbamide peroxide            2-4 hours

35% Carbamide peroxide            30 minutes

45% Carbamide peroxide            15-30 minutes

So what do we recommend? Dr. Choi likes for our patients to go ahead and try the over the counter products. Any of them. However, we strongly recommend that you check for the type of peroxide and it's concentration (%).  This information is seldom listed on sites like Amazon, but can be found at the manufacturer's website.  One popular product made by Crest did not list the type or concentration of peroxide on Amazon, but could be found easily on Crest's website.  So do your research, and get those teeth whitened.

Thanks for reading our Blog. We hope that you find this information useful. We want our patients to know what we as dental professionals know, so they can do what's best for them. And don’t forget to share this link with your friends.

Look for upcoming Blog Topics:

”Expert Whitening TIPS.”

“Activated charcoal whitening products versus peroxide products.”

“Why Whitening may not be working for you.”