As Flap previously reported, although it seems too good to be true, the pursuit of pearly whites is no longer just a cosmetic fix: A slew of new teeth-whitening products also contain a chemical compound that makes teeth stronger, more lustrous and less sensitive to hot or cold temperatures:
The new compound may even be "the next step beyond fluoride," says Frederick Eichmiller, a dental researcher who spoke last week at "The New Face of Oral Biology," an American Dental Association media conference in Manhattan.
The additive, amorphous calcium phosphate, or ACP, is based on a chemical compound in saliva that naturally protects the teeth. ACP is a souped-up version of this natural compound, and it's being used in many dental products and procedures, from in- office cavity fillings to chewing gum to adhesives for orthodontic braces.
ACP seems to have two powerful benefits: it reduces tooth sensitivity (an annoying but temporary side effect of tooth-whitening and fillings) and acts as a chemical buffer to acid produced by bacteria that weakens teeth.
In reviewing the newest and conventional in-office and at home bleaching materials, Flap has found none that overtly incorporates ACP in their bleaching products. Perhaps, this is the hidden ingredient in their proprietary and sometimes patented formulations. Some examples include:
Dr. Rod Kurthy
Deep Bleaching Technique
There is also ongoing research to see whether ACP can actually prevent cavities, and so far, that seems to be the case, says Eichmiller, director of the ADA's Paffenbarger Research Center in Gaithersburg, Md. In a few years, its likely that ACP will be used in conjunction with fluoride for a double-whammy cavity-fighting effect.
For now, the federal Food and Drug Administration allows it to be marketed as a way to strengthen teeth and improve their appearance. It's used mostly in professional dental whitening products, but it's increasingly finding its way into over-the-counter products.
For example, Trident has several chewing gum lines that contain Recaldent, a trademarked form of ACP. Arm & Hammer sells a toothpaste, Enamel Care with Liquid Calcium that "restores enamel luster."
Many dentists have replaced their older teeth-whitening products with ACP products, but don't always tell patients this, says Manhattan dentist Leslie Seldin. What dentists are more likely telling patients is that teeth whitening isn't as painful as it used to be, he says.
"We can reassure them that sensitivity won't be as much of an issue," says Seldin, a consumer adviser for the ADA.
It is good to hear that sensitivity may be on the wane for our patients and that there are new and improved products about ready to flood the marketplace.
However, the profession needs an independent and non-proprietary sponsored evaluation of all the "latest and greatest" techniques and materials.
The dentist and patient should ask these questions:
What is the most efficacious method of bleaching teeth?
What product and technique demonstrates the least sensitivity?
Will Over the Counter (OTC) bleaching supplant expensive in-office deep or light activated bleaching?
Stay tuned....The Bleach Wars are just starting.