Karen asked: “I get a lot of questions from patients about whether whitening weakens teeth. Does it?”
The answer is no, “KöR Whitening” does not weaken teeth. However, many other products do, especially OTC products like White Strips. And we know, many teenagers, and even some adults, abuse White Strips and become “bleachaholics” or “bleachorexics”. That can and will indeed demineralize tooth structure.
There are typically two main things that damage tooth structure: Acid and physical trauma.
As I discussed in my webinar on The Science of Whitening, whitening gels are unstable chemicals. That’s good and bad. The good part is that these unstable gels will break down quickly on the teeth to cause whitening, but the bad part is that these unstable gels start breaking down immediately upon manufacture if they’re not refrigerated.
If not refrigerated, and if no chemical stabilizers (such as phosphoric acid) are added, the gels will be virtually useless by the time they get in the hands of the dental office or patient.
So companies add chemical stabilizers, with phosphoric acid being very commonly used as a stabilizer. But they can’t put all THAT much stabilizer in the gel, because if they stabilize it too much, nothing will happen when it’s put on the teeth. Placing small amounts of those chemical stabilizers helps prevent breakdown “a little bit”.
But also remember in the webinar I said that one of the byproducts of the breakdown of peroxide is hydrogen ions, which are acid. So while these products are breaking down during warehouse storage, freight truck shipping, UPS shipping, and storage in the dental office, not only are they becoming less effective, but they are becoming more acidic.
Even those professional products that start out neutral will typically breakdown during storage and shipping, becoming acidic by the time the gels are used.
Often whitening gel companies will tell you to refrigerate after you receive the product. They try to say that it’s not important to refrigerate before you receive it. Does that make any scientific sense whatsoever? No.
KöR is the only whitening company that refrigerates an entire line of whitening gels from the instant of manufacture until received cold at the dental practice. So other whitening companies typically use chemical stabilizers in their whitening gels. Like I said, it helps a little. But being slightly stabilized, they are not as un-stable as we’d like in the mouth. This is just one of the reasons we refrigerate every gel we make, every instant until received cold by the dental practice.
Not only does this allow you to receive gel that is virtually at 100% of the effectiveness as the day it was manufactured, but also when you put it in the mouth, with zero chemical stabilizers, it is the most unstable possible, so it has unbelievable effectiveness.
But remember, even with KöR Whitening gels, as they break down in the mouth, hydrogen ions (acid) is thrown off. This is why I have created gels with buffering systems that keep the pH neutral throughout the process. This has many other benefits that would take much longer to explain.
However, just think about OTC products. They endure the very worst conditions during storage and shipping. Storage for long periods in hot or warm warehouses. Days on end in non-refrigerated freight trucks that often reach up to 165oF temperature. So those OTC manufacturers have to add a lot of phosphoric acid to keep them more stable than even most professional products. And add to that the acid that is thrown off during breakdown on the teeth, with no buffering agents.
Having a patient whitening using OTC whitening strips is fine…once. Or even once every couple years. But when they start using multiple kits a year, that’s a problem causing demineralization due to the acid.
For the most part, professional products don’t have as much stabilizer in them, but still, other than with KöR gels, if you allow your patients to whiten too often at home, you run the risk of acid demineralization.
What I’ve always told my patients is that the KöR formulations are so safe that theoretically, they could whiten their teeth every day for their lifetime, but the point being, why would you want to? I say that to put any of the patient’s fears to rest. And being the patient’s source of whitening gel, still, we’ve always made sure they’re not being crazy with constant ongoing whitening.
I hope that answers your question. If you have any other questions about this or anything else, feel free to contact your KöR rep at (949) 713-0909 or toll-free at (866) 763-7753.
Very best regards,
Dr. Rod Kurthy