Carbamide Peroxide for Teeth Whitening

erica medical reviewer
Medically Reviewed
by Dr. Erica Anand
Ellie Swain
Written by
Ellie Swain
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Evidence Based
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6 sources cited
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Key Takeaways

  • Carbamide peroxide is used in whitening products to brighten teeth
  • Carbamide peroxide is safe to use on teeth
  • There are some side effects, but they are not significantly noticeable 
  • Carbamide peroxide has a similar makeup to hydrogen peroxide (with some exceptions)

What is Carbamide Peroxide?

A person’s teeth can become yellow or discolored for various reasons. Some people use teeth whitening products to brighten them. 

Most whitening products contain either carbamide or hydrogen peroxide gel (or a combination). Most people are more familiar with hydrogen peroxide.

A peroxide is defined as any compound with two oxygen atoms. Adding hydrogen makes hydrogen peroxide, which is an oxidizing agent. 

Hydrogen peroxide causes a chemical reaction where the oxygen atoms lose electrons. This interaction changes the substance it’s applied to.

Regarding teeth whitening, hydrogen peroxide introduces a chemical reaction that involves dissolving teeth stains.

Carbamide peroxide is a combination of hydrogen peroxide and carbamide. It has a slightly different chemical makeup.

Similar to hydrogen peroxide, carbamide peroxide is also an oxidizing agent. It removes stains the same way hydrogen peroxide does, but at a slower rate. Professional whitening systems often use hydrogen peroxide because you get instant, white results. 

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Is Carbamide Peroxide Safe to Use on Teeth? 

Carbamide peroxide can be used safely at home without dental supervision. However, we always recommend discussing at-home whitening with your dentist first.

A 16 to 35% carbamide peroxide concentration is generally safe and effective for whitening teeth.1 

A 35% concentration provides significantly more whitening effects compared to a 16% concentration. This is without additional side effects.1

4 Side Effects of Carbamide Peroxide 

There are several side effects of carbamide peroxide whitening:

1. Gum Irritation

Gum irritation can occur from a poorly-fitted whitening tray. It can also develop from the carbamide peroxide whitening product itself. 

If the whitening product comes into contact with your gums, you may experience irritation. Custom trays prevent this problem. They are scalloped along your unique gumline. 

Over-the-counter (OTC) whitening products typically use trays that overlap the gums. Ill-fitting trays (universal options) can also rub against your gums and lead to an infection. This is relatively rare. 

2. Sensitivity

This side effect includes sensitivity to air, thermal sensitivity, and tooth sensitivity:

  • Air sensitivity is experienced when you breathe through your mouth. 
  • Thermal sensitivity occurs when you eat something hot or cold. 
  • Tooth sensitivity happens when a whitener dehydrates and inflames the living tissue inside a tooth. 

People with a history of tooth sensitivity may be more likely to develop sensitivity while using carbamide peroxide. 

Some ways to reduce tooth sensitivity include using anti-sensitivity toothpaste or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications to reduce the inflammation. 

3. Throat Irritation

You can accidentally swallow carbamide peroxide gel while whitening. This is especially true if you use the product overnight. 

Throat contact can lead to irritation. However, since the product is usually in contact with the throat for a short time, this side effect should pass quickly.

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4. Uneven whitening

Uneven whitening is more common with high concentrations of peroxide. This effect usually diminishes after a few uses.

Carbamide peroxide side effects are fairly common. For most people, they aren’t noticeable or harsh enough to stop them from using the products. To reduce side effects, whiten with peroxide less frequently or use lower concentrations. 

Carbamide Peroxide vs. Hydrogen Peroxide 

Hydrogen peroxide alone is a powerful whitening agent. 

Carbon peroxide is also an effective whitening agent. It contains hydrogen peroxide at a ratio of 1:3. For example, a product with 30% carbamide peroxide contains around 10% hydrogen peroxide.

Hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide both produce effective teeth whitening results. 

However, there are both differences and similarities:

  • Effectiveness — Carbamide peroxide produces slightly more significant results at first. Ultimately, products containing equal amounts of hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide deliver the same results.
  • Speed — Hydrogen peroxide breaks down quicker than carbamide peroxide. This means it releases most of its whitening effects within 30 to 60 minutes. Carbamide peroxide releases around 50% of its whitening power in the first two hours. It can remain active for up to six extra hours. 
  • Amount of time used — Hydrogen peroxide products are used for less time. But the number of days a person will need to use either one depends on their needs and rate of tooth color change.
  • Sensitivity — There is no noticeable difference between hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide when it comes to sensitivity.
  • Rebound — Rebound is where the teeth look lighter immediately after treatment but lose some brilliance after a short period. There is no difference in the rebound between carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide. Rebound is linked more to dehydration than peroxide levels. Whitening gels that contain higher water content help to prevent rebound caused by dehydration.
  • Shelf life — Formulas with carbamide peroxide have a slightly longer shelf life than those with hydrogen peroxide. However, refrigerating all peroxide products increases their shelf life.

Best Carbamide Peroxide Whitening Products

Here are some of the best carbamide peroxide whitening products on the market.

1. AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Kit

AuroGlow’s Teeth Whitening Kit combines professional whitening gel with LED light technology. This treatment helps remove stains in just 30 minutes a day.

AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Kit, LED Light

The complete kit:2 

  • Whitens up to 10 shades in seven days
  • Causes no sensitivity or irritation
  • Causes no significant gum irritation
  • Includes a clinically proven whitening formula
  • Contains LED lighting to quicken results
  • Can be used for 30 minutes per day

A clinical study of the AuraGlow 35% carbamide peroxide whitening gel confirmed these statements.4

2. AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Pen 

AuroGlow’s Teeth Whitening Pen is an effective way to whiten teeth quickly.

To use, click the bottom of the pen. Then brush the gel onto the teeth for a whiter smile.

AuraGlow Teeth Whitening Pen

The whitening pen:3

  • Whitens teeth in under one minute
  • Consists of 15 treatments of 35% whitening gel
  • Can be used one to two times a day for the best results
  • Is excellent for maintenance or touch-up whitening
  • Whitens up to 10 shades in seven days
  • Causes no significant gum irritation
  • Causes no significant tooth sensitivity
  • Includes a clinically proven whitening formula

A clinical study of the AuraGlow 35% carbamide peroxide whitening gel confirmed these statements.4

Resources

Onwudiwe, U V et al. “Clinical evaluation of 16% and 35% carbamide peroxide as in-office vital tooth whitening agents.” Nigerian quarterly journal of hospital medicine vol. 23,2 (2013): 80-4.

Complete LED Whitening Kit, AuraGlow

Whitening Pen, AuraGlow

Clinical Study Auraglow 35% carbamide peroxide gel, AuraGlow

Meireles, Sônia Saeger et al. “Effectiveness of different carbamide peroxide concentrations used for tooth bleaching: an in vitro study.” Journal of applied oral science : revista FOB vol. 20,2 (2012): 186-91

Féliz-Matos, Leandro et al. “Dental Bleaching Techniques; Hydrogen-carbamide Peroxides and Light Sources for Activation, an Update. Mini Review Article.” The open dentistry journal vol. 8 264-8. 6 Jan. 2015

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