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J Esthet Restor Dent. 2002;14(1):24-30.

Effect of bleaching agents on the hardness and morphology of enamel.

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  • 1Department of Operative Dentistry, Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florian√≥polis, Brazil. guilherme_lopes@ig.com.br



The goal of the present laboratory study was to analyze the effect of two home bleaching agents (Opalescence 10%, Ultradent, and Hi-Lite II, Shofu) as well as the separate solutions of 10% carbamide peroxide primary components (3% hydrogen peroxide and 7% urea) on enamel microhardness and surface morphology.


Thirty human molars stored in water for no longer than 3 months were selected. Their facial and lingual surfaces were embedded in acrylic resin, and the specimens were polished with up to 600-grit sandpaper. The 30 molar sections were divided into five groups as per treatment modality (n = 6); group 1, 10% carbamide peroxide bleach with carbopol (Opalescence, Ultradent); group 2, oxygen-free gel bleach (Hydroxylite, Hi-Lite II, Shofu); group 3, 3% hydrogen peroxide with carbopol (Dermus Pharmacy, Florianópolis, SC, Brazil); group 4, 7% urea treatment (Dermus Pharmacy); and control, group 5, artificial saliva (Dermus Pharmacy). Prior to treatment, six indentations (Vickers) were made on each of the six surfaces in each group under a load of 100 g for 30 seconds. Bleaching procedure was conducted for 3 hours per day for 2 weeks, the control group excepted. Following each bleaching session, the specimens were washed with deionized water and kept in artificial saliva at 37 degrees C, this solution being changed daily. Pre- and post-treatment microhardness data were analyzed using a two-way analysis of variance. In a similar way, 30 other specimens underwent the same procedures. After the bleaching period, the samples were observed under the scanning electron microscope.


Specimens submitted to bleaching treatment with 3% hydrogen peroxide gel as described in this study showed a significant reduction of surface microhardness (p < .0001). The other treatment modalities had no effect on surface microhardness. No morphologic alterations were observed on enamel submitted to bleaching gel of 10% carbamide peroxide (Opalescence), oxygen-free gel (Hi-Lite II, Shofu), or 7% urea solution compared with the control (artificial saliva). However, the specimens bleached for 3 hours per day for 2 weeks with 3% hydrogen peroxide gel presented areas of mild erosion. The effect, nevertheless, was not uniform, occurring with varying intensity on all samples of enamel bleached with 3% hydrogen peroxide.


Bleaching treatment conducted with two home bleaching agents (Opalescence 10%, Ultradent, and Hi-Lite II, Shofu) had no adverse effects on enamel microhardness or on surface morphology. Bleaching with 3% hydrogen peroxide can have a negative effect on enamel hardness and surface morphology when performed as described in this study.

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