Tooth bleaching by different concentrations of carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide whitening strips: an in vitro study

J Esthet Restor Dent. 2006;18(2):93-100; discussion 101. doi: 10.2310/6130.2006.00016_1.x.


Objective: To investigate the tooth whitening effects of various concentrations of carbamide peroxide (CP) gels and 6% hydrogen peroxide (HP) whitening strips used on an intrinsic, in vitro stain model in a simulated home-applied bleaching protocol.

Method: Extracted third molars were sectioned and stained to Vita shade C4 using a standardized tea solution. Stained specimens were then bleached with 10, 15, 20, 22, and 30% CP gels applied in custom-made trays for 8-hour sessions for 14 days. A 6% HP whitening strip product was also tested in a regimen of twice-daily 30-minute treatments for 14 days. Shades were assessed at baseline and at 2, 5, 7, 10, and 14 days of treatment using a shade guide (SG) and a shade vision system (SVS), recorded as shade guide unit (SGU) changes from baseline, and CIE L*a*b* recordings using a chromometer.

Results: By day 14, all CP treatments resulted in at least 12 SGU improvements by SG and SVS methods: the HP treatment mean was just less than 12 SGU. With the chromometer, the CP improvements ranged from approximately 19 to 28 units and 16 units for the HP whitening strips. Observationally, by SG and SVS, CP treatments achieved the maximum improvement (12-13 SGU) at different time points: day 5 for 30% CP, day 10 for 22% CP, and day 14 for the other three treatments. SG and SVS data were virtually binary, switching from 0 to scores of 9 or above as bleaching progressed. The differences between the six treatments in the mean day to achieve a positive SG or SVS score (9 or more units) approached significance. For each of the SG, SVS, and L*a*b* scores, the dose-response correlation with CP concentration was significant at one or more assessment times. SG and SVS showed extremely strong agreement in detecting change and substantial agreement with L*a*b*.

Conclusion: This in vitro study supports the limited data available from the very few available randomized controlled clinical trials indicating that CP and HP home-use bleaching systems can achieve considerable tooth whitening outcomes, albeit at different rates, which appear to be concentration dependent.

Clinical significance: There is a clear significant relationship for both concentration and duration of exposure for CP bleaching agents. The final shade change is independent of the concentration of bleaching agent, with time as the dominant variable. Higher concentrations of CP that have not been investigated previously may be a treatment option for esthetic improvement of shade where time is at a premium, but caution must be exercised in view of the possible increased incidence of sensitivity.

MeSH terms

  • Carbamide Peroxide
  • Dental Devices, Home Care
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Combinations
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / administration & dosage
  • Molar
  • Oxidants / administration & dosage
  • Peroxides / administration & dosage
  • Tea
  • Tooth Bleaching / methods*
  • Tooth Discoloration / therapy
  • Urea / administration & dosage
  • Urea / analogs & derivatives


  • Drug Combinations
  • Oxidants
  • Peroxides
  • Tea
  • Carbamide Peroxide
  • Urea
  • Hydrogen Peroxide