Would you put ammonia or a sewage-water treatment in your mouth? Of course not! But that's exactly what could end up happening if you're not careful about the ingredients of the teeth whitening products you use. Not all whiteners are created equal, and you need to sort out the good from the bad and the ugly. Check out this rundown on teeth whitening ingredients so you'll know exactly what you're putting in your mouth.
Can You Even Find the Ingredients?
Before you can review teeth whitener ingredients in any product, you need to be able to find them. Some teeth whitening brands hide their ingredients so they're not easily found on their website or on the product packaging. This can be a red flag, making you wonder what they don't want you to know.
What's the Active Ingredient?
If you are able to find the ingredients, one of the first things to pinpoint is what the product uses as the active ingredient for the whitening process. Every whitening gel needs an active ingredient to be effective, but not all active ingredients make for the best or safest experience.
Good: Hydrogen peroxide tops the list when it comes to active teeth whitener ingredients.
Not only is it safe and effective, but breaks down cleanly into water and oxygen molecules inside your mouth.
Bad: Carbamide peroxide can be effective for whitening, but it breaks down into urea and ammonia in your mouth (ew, right?). Yet companies still use it because it is a more stable form of peroxide so it doesn't require a special, more expensive delivery system to keep it fresh and active.
It does, however, require a much higher concentration than hydrogen peroxide does. Carbamide peroxide requires three times the concentration of the equivalent level of hydrogen peroxide, which can also increase the likelihood of sensitivity.
Ugly: Any number of other so-called "active" ingredients may show up in teeth whiteners, but they may not actually be proven to be safe or effective. Do your research before you commit to a purchase!
In addition to an effective active ingredient, you'll want to keep an eye out for other helpful home teeth whitening ingredients, like these five found in GLO Science products:
Hydrogen Peroxide: You already learned hydrogen peroxide is a safe and effective teeth whitening agent, but it's also a mild antiseptic that can prevent infection. You can use it as an oral rinse for a clean and healthy mouth. Since it degrades quickly when exposed to oxygen, it does require special airtight packaging to ensure its efficacy.
Sodium Fluoride: This inorganic salt aids in the prevention of cavities. It strengthens the teeth by encouraging the formation of fluorapatite, a naturally occurring component of tooth enamel.
Glycerin: Glycerin is a moisturizing humectant that holds on to water. This prevents dehydration of the tooth and reduces bacterial activity in the mouth.
Potassium Nitrate: Those with sensitive teeth will appreciate potassium nitrate. This desensitizing agent calms the nerves in the teeth to help prevent sensitivity.
Sodium Hydroxide: This goes on the good teeth whitener ingredients list for its ability to increase pH levels. It raises the pH level of the whitening gel, so it whitens more effectively. It also does the same inside your mouth, which inhibits the growth of plaque-forming bacteria.
Bad and Ugly Ingredients
Just as there are certain teeth whitener ingredients you want, there are others you definitely want to do without. Ingredients to watch out for include:
Carbamide Peroxide or Urea Peroxide: This teeth whitening agent is used by some companies because it's easier to package than hydrogen peroxide. But it comes with its own set of issues. It's only 30% as effective as hydrogen peroxide at equal concentration levels, and don't forget that it also breaks down into urea and ammonia inside your mouth.
Triethanolamine (TEA): Considered a moderate hazard ingredient by the Cosmetics Database, TEA can cause allergic reactions and eye problems. It can also be toxic if absorbed over a long period of time. TEA is primarily used for balancing pH and in cosmetic skin creams to allow them spread more evenly and avoid lumping or caking.
Although many personal care products, such as shaving cream, have removed TEA from their formulas and market them as "TEA-Free," you'll still find it in some teeth whitening gels.
Sodium Chlorite: Although sodium chlorite is used as a "whitening" agent, it's actually more of a disinfectant than a teeth whitener. It has many applications but most are industrial, such as waste-water (sewage) treatment or as an antimicrobial agent. It is not recommended for use in the mouth.
If you want your teeth to be white and your whitening experience to be pleasant, it's essential to look for safe home teeth whitening ingredients - that are actually recommended for use in your mouth. GLO Science products cover all the bases with a formulation that's effective, safe, vegan, gluten-free and even includes a desensitizing agent for optimum comfort. Give GLO Science a try today.