Whitening products can bleach the tooth, actually changing the natural tooth color or work by physical or chemical action to help remove surface stains only.
The most common type of professional vital tooth whitening (performed on teeth with live nerves_ uses a gel that is applied directly to the tooth surface. This product contains some form of hydrogen peroxide. Teeth that had root canal treatment could be treated with a whitening agent placed inside the tooth for a few days. There is also a wide array of over-the-counter home whitening kits and home remedies that work sufficiently well in some cases.
Over-the-counter (OTC) whitening products can be categorized into two major groups:
- Peroxide-containing bleaching agents; and
- Whitening toothpastes (dentifrices)
Carbamide peroxide, used in many bleaching products, breaks down into hydrogen peroxide and urea, with hydrogen peroxide being the active bleaching agent. The most commonly observed side effects with these peroxide-based bleaching agents are tooth sensitivity and occasional irritation of soft tissues in the mouth (oral mucosa), particularly the gums.
Example of ingredients in an OTC whitening solution - 5 Minute Speed Whitening Gel: Water, Glycerin, Hydrogen Peroxide, Carbomer, PEG‑60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Flavor, Sodium Saccharin, Potassium Stannate, Disodium Pyrophosphate, Etidronic Acid, Ammonium Hydroxide. StainGuard Rinse: Water, Glycerin, PVP, Poloxamer 407, Sodium Saccharin, Sodium Benzoate, PEG‑40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Flavor, Citric Acid, Blue 1.