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How safe is teeth whitening? Can this procedure affect the teeth enamel or pulp?
The effects on the tooth enamel are no stronger than those caused by consuming carbonated drinks and are temporary, as the saliva has repairing properties. The effects also depend on the used substance, the concentration and the application time. By using the 10-16% carbamide gel, urea is also produced inside the tray, increasing the pH of the saliva towards alkaline during the first 2 hours of use and prevents the demineralization of the enamel.
Effects on the dental pulp (tooth nerve)
An increased sensitivity of the teeth to cold may appear during or after the whitening procedure. This is due to hydrogen peroxide, which penetrates the enamel and the dentin, towards the interior of the tooth, to the nerve. With high-concentration peroxide (30-35% used for dental practice whitening procedures), in association with the light or heat used for enhancing the effect, irreversible pulpitis may be caused, but there are no permanent risks for the teeth. With low-concentration peroxide (3%, used for home whitening procedures), the effects on the nerve are even more insignificant, as tooth sensitivity is temporary and disappears within days from the whitening.
The substance used for teeth whitening is carbamide peroxide, with a concentration of 10-16% for home whitening and 45% for dental practice procedures. The active substance is hydrogen peroxide, which undergoes an oxidation process, releasing active oxygen, which penetrates the structure of the enamel and dentin, removing stains. The tooth becomes whiter and brighter.
The use of 10% carbamide peroxide gel in trays is equivalent to 3% hydrogen peroxide and 7% urea. Hydrogen peroxide decomposes into active oxygen and water, and urea into ammonia and and carbon dioxide. All these byproducts naturally exist inside the body and food and are well tolerated by the human body.
Scientific studies have assessed the safety of hydrogen peroxide inside the oral cavity. Trials have shown that this is a chemical compound with beneficial effects for the gums, through the antibacterial effect of oxygen, its anti-plaque and antiseptic effect. It is non-toxic and no unwanted effects have been reported. A short-term irritation of the gums, due to extended contact, may occur.
Clinical and laboratory trials, and the millions of treated patients have proved that using whitening products, applied and monitored by the dentist, is both safe and effective. Only the doctor knows the indications and contraindications of teeth whitening, how this procedure is done and what products are suitable for each patient from the range of marketed products.