As you already know, teeth whitening through bleaching involves the use of peroxide chemicals which change the way teeth refract light. This change in the refraction of light creates the appearance of teeth being whiter, without removing or causing harm to any tooth material.
Carbamide peroxide (also known as urea-hydrogen peroxide) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) are both used in treatments that are in-surgery. Both treatments follow the same steps to complete, but carbamide peroxide requires water to free the concentration of hydrogen peroxide which is contained within.
Although both oxidise teeth through hydrogen peroxide, knowing the differences between the two solutions can give you more options and allow you to give better suited treatments to your patients.
Carbamide peroxide can give you greater control over shading
Carbamide peroxide produces a lower concentration of hydrogen peroxide, with a ratio of 3.5:1 hydrogen peroxide associated with the solution. This lets you get a much finer grip on the exact results you want to achieve with your bleaching treatment, so if your patient is expecting a specific shade after treatment, you can more accurately provide them with this using carbamide peroxide.
Carbamide peroxide offers safety advantages above H2O2
As it doesn’t have such a high concentration, using carbamide peroxide can be much more forgiving if a mistake was to occur during treatment. This is also the case when patients are continuing their treatment outside of the surgery, it can be much more forgiving as it does not have the same acidic nature as the more concentrated hydrogen peroxide.
Carbamide peroxide has a much longer shelf-life
If your practice offers teeth whitening services, but not on an everyday basis, then offering carbamide peroxide solutions may be the best way forward. As they are not as highly concentrated, they have a much longer shelf life than hydrogen peroxide products. This may also be useful for home treatments over a longer period.
For quicker results hydrogen peroxide has the upper hand
Due to the fast demanding nature of modern society, increasingly consumers are wanting quicker results with teeth whitening treatments. Due to the chemical makeup of carbamide peroxide, this is not possible as it takes longer to oxidise and is much less concentrated than the alternative.
But with hydrogen peroxide, high level results can be achieved much quicker and instantly in some cases. Within an hour of in-surgery blue light (UV photo-oxidation) treatment using hydrogen peroxide, teeth can appear up to 10 shades brighter in one session. Carbamide peroxide cannot be aided through blue light as effectively, as the concentrations are lower.
For all its disadvantages, there’s still a place for carbamide peroxide
Clearly, for more instantaneous, effective results hydrogen peroxide is the winner. But with the characteristics of carbamide peroxide, they still may have a place in your teeth whitening treatments for patients with slightly different needs.
There may be opportunities to utilise carbamide peroxide in your take-home treatments, as they can be used with slightly less precaution as there is more margin for error during treatments, which of course is much more likely the first time a patient applies their own bleach without supervision.
Carbamide peroxide could also be argued to be better for patients who suffer from sensitive teeth caused by acidity. Carbamide peroxide is more pH neutral than hydrogen peroxide, so that tooth sensitivity would not be greatly heightened after application.
So whilst not as instantaneous or immediately effective, there may be certain situations which you could consider using carbamide peroxide in place of hydrogen peroxide as a method of bleaching teeth.