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Difference between Carbamide & Hydrogen Peroxide


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Carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide are the two most commonly used active ingredients for any teeth whitening product and procedure. Without the use of either of these ingredients, it is just not possible to bring about that whiteness. Although these two ingredients are closely related, several points of difference isolate them. It is due to these differences that certain whitening products and procedures prefer carbamide peroxide, while others settle down for hydrogen peroxide.

Usually, both these ingredients carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide are believed to produce the same results. However, there are differences which make these two very similar ingredients different from the other.

When you are to compare between these two ingredients and their strength to produce whiteness, they would perform almost the same jobs without fail.

Using the Ingredients for Teeth Whitening

As a matter of fact, there are some dental professionals who prefer to use both these types of peroxide teeth whiteners for extremely good results. Also, these ingredients are used in combination to formulate a wide range of teeth whitening gels and products that have been the leading brands of late.

To be fair, dentists do not recognize any difference, although there are some professionals who use hydrogen peroxide and not carbamide peroxide. But before getting in to all of that, it is important to know why hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide is used for teeth whitening.

The purpose of whiteners

Well, teeth whitening is basically a procedure that involves the bleaching of your teeth. Bleaching the outer layers of your teeth creates a whitening effect. Peroxide is a bleaching agent.

Our teeth develop stains and discolorations over time. It is due to years of food habits, poor oral hygiene and certain medications that these stains become increasingly stubborn, removing them permanently is an extremely difficult task to achieve. However, with teeth whitening products and ingredients, the job has now been simplified.

When stained teeth are concerned, "free radicals" must be used for breaking down the darkened compounds that are entrapped inside the enamel layer of our teeth. This results in the formation of certain byproducts during the process of oxidation. These byproducts are usual colorless, which creates a whitening effect on the teeth.

It is a fact that free radicals are required for whitening, which is released by certain peroxide compounds like hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide. However, hydrogen peroxide is known for doing the job more efficiently. But as the compound is unstable, it tends to degrade easily.

Are both Hydrogen Peroxide and Carbamide Peroxide the Same?

No! They are different peroxide based products containing different levels of peroxide in them. There is a typical ratio of 3:1 between these two compounds, which means 6% of hydrogen peroxide is equal to 18% of carbamide peroxide. Therefore, products containing hydrogen peroxide are often weaker than that of carbamide peroxide.

The Difference

Hydrogen peroxide is available in its purest form. It is neither combined with other chemicals, nor does it require any chemical compound to maintain its stability. While on the other hand, carbamide peroxide is born out of hydrogen peroxide. It is basically hydrogen peroxide plus urea (carbon plus nitrogen).

During the use of hydrogen peroxide, the compound breaks down into oxygen and water, which penetrates through the enamel of the teeth and breaks apart the chains of carbon molecules primarily responsible for causing stains. This is basically the process of oxidation that results in whiter teeth, and whitening effect.

On the other hand, carbamide peroxide contains hydrogen peroxide in it as its most active ingredient. This actually compels the compound to take a step further to achieve the whiteness. This means that carbamide peroxide will have to work much harder than hydrogen peroxide had to.

Hydrogen Peroxide Releases Free Radicals at a Higher Rate

It is true that hydrogen peroxide releases free radicals at an increased rate than carbamide peroxide. This makes hydrogen peroxide more efficient in whitening than its other counterparts. This rapid development of free radicals often makes the process of whitening much easier and quicker, which is why some of the most expensive teeth whitening treatments now offer hydrogen peroxide whitening.

However, there are certain advantages of using carbamide peroxide as well. Carbamide peroxide is a stable compound that breaks down in to hydrogen peroxide and urea and releases free radicals to whiten you teeth. As the transformation is time-consuming, it is believed that free radicals will be produce at a sustained rate, thereby giving you controlled whiteness without causing any harm to your teeth. The only difference here is at the speed at which the ingredients carry out whitening.

As different proponents have different opinions about the teeth whitening ingredients, it is often very difficult for us to understand the difference. It is true that both these compounds – hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide are not the same. However, there is only a subtle difference between them that needs to be understood. It is due to this difference that various teeth whiteners are either using any of these as active ingredients, or sometimes both of these ingredients for improved results.

Hydrogen peroxide and/or carbamide peroxide is contained in almost all the products that claim to be teeth whiteners. The wide range of products is simply amazing, which includes teeth whitening gels, teeth whitening toothpastes, kits, whiteners, whitening pens, instant whiteners, strips and many more. And not to forget the expensive teeth whitening procedures performed by the cosmetic dentists.

Safety Issues

Well, both hydrogen peroxide and 36% carbamide peroxide gels are safe to be used for teeth whitening. However, keeping an eye on the concentration of the ingredient used is a must. Although it is the dentist's job, you must also ensure your safety. It is even more important to take care of these factors when you are purchasing a teeth whitening product over-the-counter.

Using a whitener with proper care is essential to prevent any damage to your gums and soft tissues. With all the safety measures taken, you can choose either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide for teeth whitening. However, you can also seek your dentist's help in this regard.


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