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Hydrogen Peroxide for Teeth Whitening: Is It Safe and What Do Dentists Have to Say?

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Hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening has become quite the trend thanks to the popular app, TikTok. But, is it safe to use on your teeth, and what do dentists have to say about it? 

hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening
Is it safe to whiten teeth with hydrogen peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is a common household item with many uses, from cleaning to bleaching hair. But, is it really safe to put something in your mouth that can also be used as a cleaning agent?

We investigate this teeth whitening hack and answer the following questions and more:

  • Can you use hydrogen peroxide on your teeth?
  • Is hydrogen peroxide safe for teeth?
  • How do you use hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth?
  • Where can you buy hydrogen peroxide for teeth?
  • How long does it take for hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth?

To begin with, let’s find out what hydrogen peroxide is, so you know exactly what people are putting in their mouths to whiten their teeth. 

What is hydrogen peroxide?

Hydrogen peroxide (H202) is a highly reactive chemical that contains both hydrogen and oxygen. In its undiluted state H202 is a colourless liquid that when exposed to oxygen becomes very reactive. This oxidisation is what makes it very effective at killing bacteria, however undiluted it can be a very aggressive chemical. 

Hydrogen peroxide has many uses such as bleaching hair, disinfecting cuts, and as a cleaning agent. Some people have even used it to remove the yellow staining from their toenails. 

So, if it works to remove stains on toenails, does it also remove stains and whiten teeth?

Does hydrogen peroxide whiten teeth?

If used safely hydrogen peroxide can whiten teeth over time. However, it must be used correctly as it can cause sensitivity to teeth and damage enamel. Hydrogen peroxide can also burn if used undiluted or for too long and too frequently. 

A study on the effect of hydrogen peroxide concentration showed that hydrogen peroxide does indeed whiten teeth but the concentration did not alter the result. Teeth were just as white no matter the concentration used. 

It did however find that using lower concentrations of hydrogen peroxide needed more treatments and higher concentrations needed fewer treatments to whiten teeth.

Is hydrogen peroxide safe for teeth?

The dilution of hydrogen peroxide considered safe to use is 3%. Any higher, and you could risk damaging your enamel for good. Even then, using it for prolonged periods of time can still cause damage. Your enamel is not something you can grow back once it is gone, so be careful not to damage it! 

This study found that using both higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide and using it for longer periods of time can damage teeth. It also concludes that using lower concentrations for shorter periods of time are less likely to damage enamel. 

According to UK regulations, it is illegal to sell any dental product with more than 0.1% hydrogen peroxide, over the counter. Dentists can use slightly higher concentrations as they are professionals using it in a controlled environment. But, with that percentage in mind, it isn’t generally recommended to use hydrogen peroxide with a higher concentration at home.  

Hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening side effects

Now that we know that using hydrogen peroxide on teeth has its risks, let’s look at the side effects:

hydrogen peroxide 3% teeth whitening
Using hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth can cause tooth sensitivity
  • Tooth sensitivity 
  • Gum irritation 
  • Enamel and tooth damage 
  • Upset stomach and vomiting from ingestion
  • ​​Chemical colitis and gastritis

Although some of these hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening side effects are from using too high a concentration or swallowing some it is worth being careful. It is also important that children do not use it, to guarantee they don’t ingest any. If you do ingest any seek medical attention immediately. 

Tooth sensitivity, enamel damage, and gum irritation can happen with any concentration of hydrogen peroxide. This is also true with both over the counter products and homemade.

If you have any of these symptoms we recommend stopping using the product and speaking with your dentist.

What do dentists have to say about using hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth?

Not all dentists agree on whether or not using hydrogen peroxide is safe, or if it actually works. Let's take a look at some of the differing opinions and see if there are any common agreements between dentists.

We reached out to a few dentists to get their professional opinion on whitening teeth with hydrogen peroxide.

Does hydrogen peroxide whiten teeth?

“It’s extremely unlikely that applying 3% hydrogen peroxide or stronger would be effective at whitening teeth.  Even if hydrogen peroxide would whiten teeth, it would be nearly impossible to have the hydrogen peroxide be in contact with the teeth long enough for it to soak in and do it’s work. 

It’s most likely not the safest thing, but regardless it’s not worth the risk as it’s not going to be effective.  A much better way to whiten teeth would be to see the dentist for whitening trays or in office Zoom whitening.”

Adrienne Hedrick DDS

Is hydrogen peroxide safe for teeth?

“Over the years (and before social media trends), hydrogen peroxide has been a safe way to whiten teeth at home. 3% concentration, in particular, is a safe, easy, and cheap option for home use and can provide results when used over time.

As a kid, my friend's mom rinsed with hydrogen peroxide and she had incredibly white teeth. As always, you should consult your dentist before trying anything new and discontinue using hydrogen peroxide if you experience any burning gums or tooth sensitivity.”

Dr. Peter Guirguis, DDS, Owner of Definitive Dental.

Does hydrogen peroxide damage teeth?

Hydrogen peroxide of any strength will have a bleaching effect on teeth, in fact, on any human tissues.

Although, it is only effective when teeth are clean, have no calculus or gum disease. If the gel is placed on a tooth with gum disease there is no barrier against the penetration of gel into the gums. And, the gum area is filled with nerves so this can result in pain or aggravation of the inflammation that is already there.

Because of such risks, the regulation and regulatory bodies across Europe have agreed that whitening with Hydrogen Peroxide should only be carried out by clinicians that can assess teeth and gum health and deliver the gel safely and exclusively to the teeth alone. This can be a dentist or hygienist.

Usually, the most effective treatment method uses customised trays. These look like mouthguards but are bespoke trays which avoid seepage and act as a reservoir for delivering the gel to the teeth over a few hours and protecting the surrounding tissues.

Overall, the risks of DIY teeth whitening with Hydrogen Peroxide outweigh the benefits.

Dr Azad Eyrumlu​, DDS, DMD, MSc, Specialist in Oral Surgery

The consensus between dentists seems to be that the risks of using hydrogen peroxide at home for teeth whitening far outweigh the benefits. And while dentists agree that it does work, some dentists believe that it doesn't in the low concentrations that would be used at home safely.

Each dentist does seem to agree that the best option for using hydrogen peroxide for teeth whitening is to do so in a clinic with a dental professional.

How to whiten teeth with hydrogen peroxide 

The TikTok teeth whitening trend

TikTok has people trying this viral teeth whitening hack, so let’s check it out. The following video is by a YouTuber and TikTocker that has decided to try the trend. 

I Tried Teeth Whitening At Home With Hydrogren Peroxide 3%! I saw this viral video on Tik Tok and decided to try it out myself to se if it really works. What did you think? Did you see any huge difference? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Product used in the Tiktok is sold out. But here is another alternativ. For everyone asking about the robe, here is where I got it! https://royaldesign.se/giacomo-170-badrock?gclid=CjwKCAiAo5qABhBdEiwAOtGmbl227EEm_etfnYp9m9RIP9CWrIa5L-9wBGklVdrHMF5VKRgCtCLrZxoCV8IQAvD_BwE#/189851 Hydrogren Peroxide 3%: https://amzn.to/3cIWreN For my Swedish peeps: https://www.bodystore.com/vateperoxid-3-300-ml/A4046-05.html?gclid=CjwKCAjwlbr8BRA0EiwAnt4MTuSC0lQ67XX2cHTwtiffXDJyWBMbfMbg_oBtOzvrOs3NFlTm0wtfVhoCPMgQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds ♡ Follow me: Instagram, snapchat & TikTok: TinaEngeo ♡ For all business enquiries please contact: [email protected] ♡ Some links are affiliate, which means that if you choose to purchase any of the products with the link in the description box, I make a small commission. I am not paid or asked to use these links. It just simply helps me continue to make content on this platform. Thank you for the support! ♡

Tina uses the following steps to whiten her teeth using the original TikTok video as a guide:

  1. Using hydrogen peroxide 3%, dip a cotton bud in the solution
  2. Wipe it on all of your teeth being careful to not miss any spots 
  3. Leaves it on your teeth for between 30 and 60 seconds 
  4. Brush teeth to finish

Tina explains that she spoke with a dentist to confirm if it was safe to use. The dentist told her it was ok to try every once in a while but not every day. 

How to use hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth safely

If you aren’t so sure about using a TikTok hack to whiten your teeth there are other ways to use hydrogen peroxide to whiten your teeth safely. There are homemade mouthwash recipes using hydrogen peroxide. Or, if you are sceptical of homemade recipes, there are plenty of store-bought options. 

The store-bought options available that use hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth include the following:

  • Teeth whitening kits 
  • Teeth whitening strips 
  • Whitening mouthwash 
  • Whitening pens 

Lastly, there is always the safest option when it comes to hydrogen peroxide. And, that is getting whitening treatment with your dentist. It is much more expensive than your store-bought or homemade options. But, your dentist can use higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide in a safe and controlled environment.

peroxide teeth whitening kit

Teeth whitening kits with hydrogen peroxide 

Whitening kits are a good alternative to going to the dentist for teeth whitening. They are less expensive than getting your teeth done at the dentists, but are still very effective in whitening teeth. 

Snow Teeth Whitening kits use a hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening gel alongside the new activation LED technology to whiten teeth. And, as it is made in the US so the level of hydrogen peroxide is slightly higher than that allowed in the UK.

If you want to know more about Snow Teeth Whitening kits you can read our full review here.

carbamide peroxide teeth whitening gel
Spotlight whitening strips with hydrogen peroxide

Teeth whitening strips with hydrogen peroxide 

There are a lot of different brands of whitening strips sold in the UK to choose from, some that use hydrogen peroxide and some that don't.

Our top pick for teeth whitening strips that include hydrogen peroxide is Spotlight Oral Care's teeth whitening strips. Their teeth whitening strips are safe and effective and use a hydrogen peroxide concentration low enough to be sold over the counter in the UK. 

Whitening mouthwash 

Whitening mouthwash can be used to help whiten teeth, although it is not as effective as whitening kits or strips. This product should be used in conjunction with other whitening products, as it has weak to no effects when used alone. 

Spotlight Oral Care has a whitening mouthwash in their range of whitening products worth checking out. You can use this with any of their whitening products, such as the whitening floss and the whitening toothpaste.

peroxide teeth whitening strips
Spotlight teeth whitening pen

Whitening pens 

A teeth whitening pen is a pen-shaped device with a brush on one end that you can paint the whitening solution onto your teeth. This is a really good way to ensure you don’t miss any spots on your teeth that sometimes happens when using the Spotlight Whitening Strips

This is a similar method to the TikTok trend as it works the same way. However, you can be assured with Spotlight's Whitening Pen, that the concentration in the whitening pen tube is safe for use.

Summary of hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening options

The table below summarises the product options you have regarding whitening teeth with hydrogen peroxide.

Hydrogen Peroxide Whitening Treatment 

Pros 

Cons 

Hydrogen peroxide home whitening 

Convenient and affordable

Weak results, can cause damage to teeth and gums 

Whitening strips

Convenient and affordable

Weak results; patchy coverage at times, can cause sensitivity 

Whitening kits 

Convenient and affordable; may use LED technology

Results not as strong as professional solutions, depending on ingredients

In-clinic whitening 

Excellent results, safe and effective, proffesional 

Very expensive 

Whitening pens

Convenient and affordable, easy to use 

Weak results 

Whitening mouthwash 

Convenient and affordable

Weak to no results, to be used alongside other products 

How long does it take for hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth?

The amount of time it takes to whiten teeth with hydrogen peroxide really depends on the product you are using. Professional teeth whitening can take around 4 weeks for noticeable results. However, at-home products use a lower concentration so it could take longer depending on how white your teeth were to start with. 

The important thing is not to be impatient and use a higher concentration. It may work faster, but it could leave you with lasting and permanent damage to your teeth. 

where to buy hydrogen peroxide for teeth

Where to buy hydrogen peroxide for teeth

You can buy food-grade, 3% hydrogen peroxide on amazon. Be careful to check the solution percentage as if it is too high you could cause damage to your teeth and gums. If you buy a solution of 3% or 6% make sure you dilute it before using it to be on the safe side. 

Alternatives to hydrogen peroxide

If you are looking for hydrogen peroxide-free teeth whitening, Smile Avenue is a whitening kit that uses Phthalimidoperoxycaproic Acid (PAP). Smile Avenue's whitening kit is made in the US and has gained popularity throughout the UK. Although it doesn't use hydrogen peroxide for teeth whitening, it has great reviews and seems to be an effective whitening product.  

Conclusion 

Hydrogen peroxide for teeth whitening is a tricky subject, and generally, TikTok hacks aren’t the most reliable when it comes to safety. Hydrogen peroxide can be safe and effective to use if used right, but even dentists don’t always agree on this. 

If you do want to use hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth, it’s best to check out your over the counter options first. Products such as Spotlight Oral Cares whitening strips, or Snow’s teeth whitening kit are safe to use if you follow instructions carefully. Or, speak to your dentist about what options they have available. 

Homemade recipes for teeth whitening are safe to use if you make sure to use below a 3% concentration. However, do not use it for long periods of time and make sure you don’t leave it on your teeth for too long. 

If you do accidentally ingest any hydrogen peroxide when using it, seek medical help immediately. 

FAQS

Does hydrogen peroxide damage teeth?

Using hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth can cause significant damage if it is used incorrectly, or at too high concentrations. If you are going to use it, don't use it often, for too long, or undiluted.

Can hydrogen peroxide whiten teeth?

Yes, the short answer is that hydrogen peroxide can whiten teeth. However, it can be very damaging to your enamel and gums, so dentists do not always recommend it.

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Contributors:
Amanda combines her medical background with her love for writing to bring you informed and accurate content at Dentaly.org.
Dr Azad Eyrumlu, DDS, DMD, MSc, Specialist in Oral Surgery and CEO of Banning Dental Group has been involved in training, mentoring and supporting dentists with clinical and dento-legal matters across both NHS and Private Dentistry and was an Executive Clinical Director for the largest privately-owned dental cooperate in the UK. He has a specialisation in Implantology from FAPI University in Sao Paolo in cooperation with the Paris Rene University and has several years of experience in prosthetics and aesthetics. Azad has a philosophy of treating his patients with a “Total Solution” implant approach and has extensive experience in the diagnosis and treatment of Peri-implantitis and surgery.
Dr. Hedrick is a dentist in Longmont, Colorado that specializes in family dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, sleep apnea, and full mouth rehab.
Dr Peter Guirguis is originally from Kansas City and graduated from the University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Dentistry. He and his wife moved to Dallas in 2013 and have called Texas home ever since. In 2015 he became the owner of Definitive Dental, with the vision of being the trusted expert in all aspects of general dentistry. His mission is to care about people, providing their complete treatment to be happy and healthy while exceeding their expectations so they return and refer.