Hydrogen Peroxide & Teeth Whitening: Does It Work & Is It Safe?

There’s nothing quite like the appeal of at-home solutions to our problems. Who wouldn’t attempt to cure their head cold by drinking hot water with lemon and two drops of peppermint oil (or a splash of something stronger) instead of schlepping their weary selves through the cold and snow to the doctor’s office? Or how could someone say no to the convenience of handheld epilators when they’re trying to schedule another painful appointment at the salon?

Whether it’s home remedies for minor illnesses or affordable, over-the-counter alternatives to professional equipment, we are constantly seeking new life hacks to save ourselves time and money. But even as we weigh these alternatives, we know that there are trade-offs. Our homebrew of essential oils and teas might smell great—although, who can tell when their nose is backed up like the DVP at rush hour?—but it’s not a guarantee of relief like a prescription medication from the doctor. Similarly, we do a good enough job of shaping our eyebrows and trimming our beards but there’s no comparison to the deft hands and keen eyes of our beauticians and barbers. Simply put, when we choose at-home solutions instead of seeking out the expertise of professionals, we pay for the convenience with quality.

When it comes to teeth whitening, the same basic trade-off applies—but with the added concern of health and safety. Hydrogen peroxide has long been considered by many a life-hacker to be a viable at-home teeth whitening solution. But, when it comes to getting your smile as radiant as it can be, does hydrogen peroxide actually work? And, more importantly, is it safe? With so much dangerous misinformation swirling around out there, it’s important to get the facts straight so you can get your teeth white.

What Is Hydrogen Peroxide?

                Hydrogen peroxide is a chemical compound (H2O2, for the chemists in the crowd) that has uses as an oxidizer, antiseptic and, you guessed it, a bleaching agent. Consumer-grade hydrogen peroxide is widely available and sold over-the-counter in pharmacies at concentrations usually ranging from 3%-6%. Even though pharmacies sell hydrogen peroxide at those reduced concentrations, healthcare professionals and safety experts will still recommend reducing hydrogen peroxide further to a 0.5% concentration for most household and personal use purposes. In other words, it’s powerful stuff.

Does It Whiten Teeth?

The most straightforward answer to the question of whether or not hydrogen peroxide whitens teeth is, “Yes, it can!” But before you go and snatch a bottle of the stuff off the shelf at your nearest pharmacy, the not-so-simple, not-so-straightforward answer is, “Yes, it can… under the right set of circumstances.”

At the 3%-6% concentration levels sold over-the-counter, most dentists do not believe that hydrogen peroxide can noticeably whiten teeth after a single use. In fact, a 2004 study found that, in order to attain a desirable level of whiteness, one would have to apply a diluted 5% solution of hydrogen peroxide and water a total of 12times. Or, to achieve the same result, a diluted 25% solution just once. But, therein lies the safety concerns of this at-home teeth whitening lifehack.

Is Hydrogen Peroxide Safe for Teeth Whitening?

Once again, there’s a simple and straightforward answer and then a not-so-simple and not-so-straightforward answer. The simple answer is, “Yes, hydrogen peroxide is safe for teeth whitening!” The not-so-simple answer sounds something like, “Yes, hydrogen peroxide is safe for teeth whitening if used infrequently and at lower levels of concentration unless otherwise administered by a trained dental professional.”

Let’s dive into that second, more verbose answer. A 2007 study that used 10%, 20%, and 30% solutions of hydrogen peroxide found that higher concentrations of the corrosive chemical did—perhaps unsurprisingly—increasing amounts of damage to teeth in their effort to whiten them. The damage became more severe the longer and/or the more frequently the scientists exposed the teeth to the hydrogen peroxide solutions.

Leave Teeth Whitening to the Teeth Whitening Professionals

Hydrogen peroxide rinses and pastes can, indeed, whiten your teeth. But finding the right level of dilution, method of application, and frequency of use to maximize results and minimize damage are questions better answered by dentists and other healthcare professionals. The safety concerns—and potential damage to your radiant smile—are not worth the marginal benefits that you’d get from this particular lifehack.

In summary, hydrogen peroxide can be a safe and effective method of teeth whitening if administered by a professional in a safe and controlled environment. At Portrait Dental, our patients’ health and safety are always top priority—and so is the radiance of your smile.

If you would like to get your teeth eight shades whiter, you don’t need an internet lifehack—just our Zoom! teeth whitening treatment. And you can still save time and money! Book your next appointment with us today and get ready to transform your smile.

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