Although DIY bleaching kits have recently become very popular, their domestic use often carries great risks. To stay safe, it’s best for your patients to leave teeth whitening to the professionals. But what if they insist? Luckily, there is a safe solution they can use. It’s called enzymatic whitening, and here’s how it works.
For the home user, abrasive or chemically aggressive whitening toothpastes and bleaching kits can do more harm than good, especially if used improperly. Enzyme-based products, however, can be used safely every day and in the long term to regain natural tooth colour, and to maintain it after professional bleaching.
What’s more, if the formula is right, enzymatic toothpastes not only improve the appearance of your patients’ teeth, but provide additional protection for the enamel as well.
The ‘Be you’ toothpaste by Curaprox is one of such products, and we’ll use it as an example to explain how the enzymatic reaction works and what a safe yet efficient toothpaste for home whitening should contain.
Read on to understand what happens in the patient’s mouth when enzyme-based products are used, and what exactly is responsible for its effects.
The enzymatic reaction: when enzymes and sugars meet oxygen
The enzymatic reaction starts as soon as the toothpaste meets air. Two ingredients – glucose oxidase enzyme, which can be found in honey, and dextrose, a simple sugar made from corn – react with each other and with the oxygen in the air. Though technically a sugar, dextrose is only present to start the reaction and serve as nourishment for the enzymes, leaving no harmful residue.
The result of the enzymatic reaction is the creation of two active ingredients: hydrogen peroxide and gluconic acid.
Besides the main reaction, the ‘Be you’ toothpaste also contains hydroxyapatite, which provides additional whitening through protecting the enamel.
Gentle whitening: hydrogen peroxide + hydroxyapatite
Hydrogen peroxide deposits one of its two oxygen particles into the tooth enamel, resulting in a physical reaction: when light reflects off the enamel, it appears whiter. The remaining particles of hydrogen peroxide naturally dissolve, as they cannot survive in the mouth on their own.
In fact, the enzyme components are already naturally present in the mouth and saliva. Enzyme-based toothpastes simply further support the process of their creation, resulting in a very gentle whitening effect. As such, the enzymatic whitening effect is safe to be present in a risk-free, daily-use toothpaste.
Hydroxyapatite smoothes and brightens the enamel and also closes openings that expose dentine beneath your patients’ enamel. This way, hydroxyapatite prevents staining food particles from getting into microscopic enamel fissures and reduces the sensitivity of exposed tooth necks.
Combating bacteria: gluconic acid
Gluconic acid is the second product of the enzymatic reaction and it has protective qualities. It’s a natural fruit acid that inhibits the growth of microorganisms. In spite of containing acids, the PH value of the ‘Be you’ toothpaste is rated at 6–6.6, staying well above the safe minimum of 5.5.
Extra tooth protection: three more ingredients
While the main enzymatic reaction produces gluconic acid that protects teeth and gums against bacteria, and the addition of hydroxyapatite helps keep sensitivity down, that’s not all a home-whitening toothpaste should do. The more protective elements it contains, the better – the ‘Be you’ contains three extra ingredients that further assist tooth protection:
Hypo-thiocyanate. As your patient brushes, hydrogen peroxide reacts with the lactoperoxidase enzyme contained in their saliva, and with thiocyanate, an additional ‘Be you’ ingredient. This results in the production of hypo-thiocyanate, which has a strong antibacterial effect. Although saliva naturally exhibits antibacterial properties, this is significantly improved by hypo-thiocyanate.
Xylitol, or birch sugar, in the toothpaste reduces the formation of biofilm and protects against tooth decay.
Fluoride is very effective at combatting acid-producing bacteria and helps remineralise the enamel.
Why is it good for your patients?
Enzymatic whitening is a perfect solution for those of your patients who would like their teeth whiter, but don’t want to opt for either professional whitening or aggressive DIY bleaching kits.
What’s more, enzyme-based products are capable of maintaining the colour of your patient’s teeth after a professional bleaching, prolonging its effects in a safe, gentle and sustainable way.
To keep your patients safe and help their home-whitening efforts, an enzyme-based toothpaste for daily use is a good choice. And if it contains some extras on top, it might as well become their new daily routine.