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Hydrogen Peroxide for Teeth Whitening: Is It Safe and Does It Work?

Amanda Dexter
Amanda Dexter
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Peter Guirguis, DDS
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Adrienne Hedrick DDS
Medically reviewed by
Dr. Azad Eyrumlu
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Hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening is a popular trend, thanks to its low cost and ease of use. But, is it safe to use on your teeth, and what do dentists have to say about it? 

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

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 (H2O2) is a highly reactive chemical that contains both hydrogen and oxygen. In its undiluted state, H2O2 is a colorless liquid that becomes very reactive when exposed to oxygen. This oxidization is what makes it effective at killing bacteria; however, undiluted it can be an 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 from teeth and whiten them?

Does hydrogen peroxide whiten teeth?

Yes, 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 and treatment time showed that hydrogen peroxide does indeed whiten teeth and that both concentration and treatment time can alter the result. 

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

It also recommends using lower concentrations and shorter treatment times to avoid damage to 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 both using 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 is less likely to damage enamel. 

According to US regulations, store-bought teeth whitening products can have as high as 10% hydrogen peroxide. Dentists can use 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 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.

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 its 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?

Applying 3% hydrogen peroxide directly to the teeth is not going to make much of a difference in the color. Typically when dentists whiten the teeth with hydrogen peroxide, we use a concentration around 35%. Also, if hydrogen peroxide contacts the the gums, tongue, or roof of the mouth, it will burn them and bleach them white. There is also research showing that frequent contact between hydrogen peroxide and the gums increases the risk of oral cancer. So while it is possible to rinse with peroxide enough times to noticeably lighten the teeth, it is not worth it to try to do this method at home.

The safest and most effective alternative is a professional dental whitening. Most dentists offer this at a lower DIY price point in a way that allows you to apply whitening gel in a controlled fashion that minimizes the risks. A secondary alternative would be an over-the-counter whitening kit that contains hydrogen peroxide, along with other ingredients and design elements that limit direct contact between gums and the whitening gel.”

Paul Springs, DMD, Timeless Dentistry Queens

The consensus between dentists is 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 

Dentist video review

Here is what Dr. Joseph thinks about using hydrogen peroxide. He also explains how to use it for teeth whitening:

He recommends using it properly, as using it every day or at full strength can cause more harm than good.

How to use hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth safely

There are homemade mouthwash recipes you can try using hydrogen peroxide. However, if you are skeptical 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:

peroxide teeth whitening kit
Snow uses hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth
  • Teeth whitening kits 
  • Teeth whitening strips 
  • Whitening mouthwash 
  • Whitening pens 

Lastly, there is always the safest option when it comes to hydrogen peroxide: 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.

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 dentist's 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.

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

Whitening strips

Smile Avenue teeth whitening strips contain 6% hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth. These strips come in packs of 28 total, that's one for the top row of teeth and one for the bottom row — so 14 treatments.

hydrogen peroxide whitening strips
Smile avenue white strips

To use these strips, you just apply them to your teeth and then let them sit for 25 to 30 minutes until they dissolve right on your teeth — no messy cleanup afterwards.

These white strips won't cause sensitivity to teeth or gums, and they contain antibacterial ingredients like menthol and coconut oil to freshen your breath.

Order your strips now and get 15% off when you use code DENTALY15 at checkout.

You can also read our Smile Avenue review for more information.

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 with other whitening products, as it has weak to no effects when used alone. 

Dr. Brite has a whitening mouthwash in their range of whitening products worth checking out. Their line features natural oral healthcare products that are vegan, gentle, and effective.

Hydrogen Peroxide Whitening Treatment



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 and can cause sensitivity 

In-clinic whitening

Excellent results; safe, effective, and professional 

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 

Whitening kits

Convenient and affordable; may use LED technology

Results not as strong as professional solutions, depending on ingredients

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

You can buy food-grade, 3% hydrogen peroxide on Amazon. Be careful to check the solution percentage; 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. 

Hydrogen peroxide for whitening

Alternatives to hydrogen peroxide

If you're feeling a bit cautious about whitening your teeth with hydrogen peroxide, there's a relatively new formula that has been found to be totally safe for teeth and cause no sensitivity — phthalimide peroxy caproic acid (PAP). PAP is a tooth whitening agent that is equally as effective for whitening as hydrogen peroxide, and PAP-based whitening gels are harmless to tooth enamel.

If you're wondering if there's a tooth whitening kit that features PAP as the whitening ingredient instead of hydrogen peroxide, there is! It's called Hismile, and it's designed to whiten teeth and to help remineralize enamel.

You can find out more about it in our full Hismile review.

Another alternative to hydrogen peroxide is carbamide peroxide. Read more about hydrogen peroxide vs carbamide peroxide.


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 correctly, 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 Dr. Brite's whitening pens, 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. 


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.

Hydrogen Peroxide for Teeth Whitening: Is It Safe and Does It Work?
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