Many things are added to teeth whitening gels. They are usually added to decrease sensitivity, or improve whitening results. We’ll discuss what they are and if you should consider them.

  • Potassium Nitrate-This agent decreases sensitivity by temporarily affecting the nerve in the tooth. It is commonly found in sensitivity toothpastes. If you’re teeth are sensitive prior to whitening or while whitening, you should definitely consider a whitening gel that has this additive.
  • Fluoride- Fluoride is generally added to whitening gels to decrease sensitivity. It works by creating assisting remineralization which blocks open channels to the nerves. I have not found it to be a very effective desensitizer. It will help if you are prone to cavities. So its not completely useless, but not necessary.
  • ACP (amorphous calcium phospate)- This molecule is readily used to block open channels to the nerves and can help with sensitivity and cavity prevention. It also makes teeth look shinier. It can be a helpful adjunct. ACP is also available, as Recaldent, separately in many chewing gums (Trident) and MI paste. Using these products can decrease your risk for cavities and tooth sensitivity.
  • Blue Covarine and other ingredients with optical properties-If you look at a color wheel the opposite of yellow is blue. So if you could somehow add a tinge of blue-purple to a tooth it would look whiter. The research seems to support this. This is usually not added to teeth whitening and bleaching gels but can be found in some toothpastes and in gels used after whitening to enhance the results.
  • Detergents-Detergents remove stains from teeth. They can be found in toothpastes and products like power swabs.

That’s a lot of decisions to be made. What we all want is for the process to fast, predictable, and painless. With all of these additive options your dentist should be able to design a teeth bleaching process that meets those goals. However sometimes to get the teeth whitening results you want it will require veneers or bonding. Chemical teeth whitening can only do so much. In our next article, we’ll discuss the options we offer in our office and what we’ve found works.

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Jonathan Campbell, DDS is a dentist in Salt Lake City. He and his partners offer cosmetic dentistry, sedation dentistry, implant dentistry, and general dentistry.