Teeth Whitening With Hydrogen Peroxide: To Bleach or Not?
Wanting to maintain your pearly whites for as long as you possibly can is natural. They not only have a practical purpose but can also make you feel good in your skin. As a result, you may find yourself researching the topic regarding teeth whitening in hopes of discovering the best possible solution. Rest assured that you are not alone!
Teeth whitening has become exceptionally popular in recent years and the global market has risen to the occasion. While some products are more affordable than others, they do not live up to their advertised reputation. Worst of all — they are dangerous.
With that said, read on to learn more about hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening and why you should not resort to this method in your day-to-day oral care.
What Is Hydrogen Peroxide and What Role Does It Play in Oral Care?
Simply put, the chemical properties of hydrogen peroxide make it a versatile compound. As such, it is commonly used as a bleaching agent, antiseptic, and oxidizer in its pure form. With this in mind, it is hardly surprising that hydrogen peroxide has been present in oral care for decades — toothpaste and mouthwashes, namely.
Hydrogen peroxide’s strong bleaching attributes make it a common ingredient in teeth whitening products as well. Due to its bleaching potency, it is oftentimes diluted with other whitening products to prevent damage to the gums and enamel. So how does it work, diluted or otherwise?
Hydrogen peroxide can easily pass into teeth and disintegrate complex molecules. Generally speaking, organic molecules that are responsible for tooth coloration can be found in teeth enamel and dentin. In addition, they reflect light as well, so the more complex the molecules, the more light they will reflect. That is to say, less complex molecules equal whiter teeth, and hydrogen peroxide can help minimize or eliminate tooth discoloration caused by the reflective attributes of complex molecules.
Why Do People Opt for Hydrogen Peroxide Teeth Whitening?
Aside from its aforementioned properties, people may choose to resort to hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening methods for various reasons.
Firstly, it is widely spread and there are many DIY recipes for hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening mixtures and how-to guides in the online sphere. Secondly, hydrogen peroxide is a fairly common household product and publicly endorsed as a teeth whitener by professionals and celebrities alike. Thirdly, depending on the peroxide concentration, oral care products containing lower values of hydrogen peroxide are easily accessible and sold over the counter. Lastly, it is a cheap alternative to otherwise expensive teeth whitening procedures.
Be that as it may, if something sounds too good to be true, chances are — it probably is. With there being two sides to every story, we will now address the less appealing side of hydrogen peroxide application in teeth whitening.
How Hydrogen Peroxide Teeth Whitening Can Prove Dangerous
While hydrogen peroxide can be easily compared to water at first glance, this similarity can prove extremely dangerous — if not lethal. Although their chemical properties differ by a single oxygen molecule, they make a world of difference.
Hydrogen peroxide is a powerful oxidizer and in high concentrations, it is known to cause damage to the respiratory system, skin, and eyes. For instance, quick in-office bleaching treatments benefit from products that contain up to 35% of peroxide. Comparatively, most teeth whitening over-the-counter products utilizing the compound do not cross the 10% threshold on average.
That being said, the vast majority of hydrogen peroxide bottles available in stores have been watered down to contain approximately 3% of the compound. Technically, this would mean that they are safe for oral application and effective in teeth whitening procedures. Or are they?
As a matter of fact, heavily diluted hydrogen peroxide is hardly effective in teeth whitening, let alone safe. While it may help remove some periodontal bacteria, it disrupts the natural mouth flora. Moreover, as an oxidant and an aggressive chemical, it damages the cells over time as well. To emphasize, inadvertent swallowing of hydrogen peroxide can destroy the esophagus and cause injury to internal organs.
If none of the above sounds too convincing and you would still like to try your luck at using hydrogen peroxide as a teeth whitener, then perhaps you should take a look at some of the side effects mentioned below.
What Are the Possible Side Effects of Hydrogen Peroxide Teeth Whitening?
A study published in 2007 focused on the effects of hydrogen peroxide on tooth enamel. The scientists applied diluted solutions of hydrogen peroxide ranging between 10% and 30% to human teeth that had been previously extracted at different points in time. The results showed that higher concentrations and prolonged exposure to hydrogen peroxide were equally damaging to the extracted teeth.
With this and the aforementioned low-concentration hydrogen peroxide facts in mind, it is safe to conclude that the side effects are inevitable. So what should you pay attention to if undergoing a hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening procedure?
Teeth sensitivity is a commonly reported side effect of hydrogen peroxide exposure. As a result, you may experience discomfort when consuming hot or cold foods and beverages.
Mouth Roof, Gums, and Tongue Inflammation
Regardless of the hydrogen peroxide concentration applied, prolonged exposure to the compound may result in mouth inflammation.
Tooth Root Inflammation
Significant damage to the enamel can result in more serious side effects — inflammation of teeth roots. Following the inflammation, infections can occur as well. Ultimately, more expensive procedures to mitigate the initial side effect can arise further down the line.
More Bang for Your Buck — True or False with Hydrogen Peroxide Teeth Whitening?
All things considered, your teeth should last you a long time. For this reason, you should not resort to the cheapest available option on the market. Doing the necessary research and practicing smart investments is the way to go. At the end of the day, one disfavor to your wallet will eventually prove favorable to your overall health — and not just your teeth.
The bottom line is that if you cherish the thought of sporting two rows of healthy and lustrous pearly whites, it would be wise to avoid unsupervised hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening altogether.