Hydrogen Peroxide Teeth Whitening-Does it Work ?

Does hydrogen peroxide whiten teeth? How do you use it? Read on to find recipes, how much, gel, dangers and side effects

Hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening-does hydrogen peroxide whiten teeth?

Perfect smiles have been portrayed as a measure of the color of quality, white. How white your teeth are has attracted much consensus on research and this has made it become a topic thoroughly investigated. Looking at the dental procedures frequently requested, teeth whitening makes the day with high demand to make teeth whiter, even those that cannot be any whiter, to boost smiles (Christensen GJ., 2005)[1]

There are a variety of methods that have come up and invented so as to make it a cheaper exercise apart from using toothpaste alone. In the advent of teeth-bleaching, more and more people have plunged into this rather risky method without the thought of it.

Well, fortunately, it is documented that teeth can be bleached with hydrogen peroxide and that this makes teeth whiter. This bleaching agent actually works but results or its effectiveness depends on the duration and how much.

To add, toothpastes, some, have a bleaching agent added to it though in measure quantities. What is evident from a literature review on bleaching agent by Bonni J.Craig et al, 1999 as published in the Probe Scientific Journal, most authors have concluded that retreatment is necessary but disagreement is on the frequency at which bleaching should be done.

Some agree that it should range from one to three years.

hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening how to use, dangers and side effects
Hydrogen peroxide and white teeth

How does it work?

Tooth whitening is a process that leads to an increased lightening of the color on your teeth; whether you use hydrogen peroxide, sodium bicarbonate or carbamide peroxide. Depending on the cause of discoloration, whitening can be accomplished by physical removal of the persistent stain or a chemical reaction.

Bleaching is a chemical method that involves the chemical degradation through oxidation, of chromagens. Both carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide act in the same way. In fact, to put it more avidly, carbamide peroxide is a stable form of hydrogen peroxide that breaks down when you add it to water and in turn releases hydrogen peroxide.

Therefore, this is why the ingredient bleaching agent in most tooth whitening products is carbamide peroxide due to its stability.

When your dentist says you have tooth stains, he or she means that your teeth contains darker shades known as chromagens that are either intrinsic or extrinsic and may therefore fall into two categories: metal containing compounds or large organic compounds with conjugated double bonds in their chemical structure (Nathoo, S.A., 1997)[2].

The latter is the mechanism through which hydrogen peroxide is able to whiten teeth. The reason why this is so, is attributed to the fact that it is much more difficult to bleach metallic compounds.

Note that if you wanted to whiten your teeth you could go for a much aesthetic option such as bonding, crowns or veneers with yet another bleaching agent, this time, sodium hypochlorite that acts in the same way as the peroxides (Goldstein, R.E., 1993)[3].

In chemistry, oxidation during bleaching when the peroxide is added to water results in a donation of electron from the enamel of the tooth. The oxygen released when added to water is a free radical. Free radicals possess a single electron and when they receive the electron from the enamel, combine with chromagens and solubilize them to reveal a desired whiter surface.

How to Whiten Teeth with Hydrogen Peroxide at home + Recipes& how much

Hydrogen peroxide alone

You could choose to use hydrogen peroxide alone without adding any other ingredient. This is relatively simple as it does not involve rationing the other ingredient and acquiring it too.

When you use a certain concentration of hydrogen peroxide, make sure that you consult with your pharmacist on how to dilute it by a factor to the appropriate concentration. This will help avert any side effects related to hydrogen peroxide.

Sodium bicarbonate / baking soda hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening

In this procedure, both hydrogen peroxide and sodium bicarbonate are mixed in the ratio of 2:1. In this case, two tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide and one tablespoon of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) are mixed.

  1. The mixture is thoroughly stirred to a pasty consistency.
  2. Dip your toothbrush in the paste and use that collected to brush your teeth gently.
  3. Leave for about 1 minute to stand then rinse of the paste completely.
baking soda and hydogen peroxide whiten teeth recipe
Baking soda

Hydrogen peroxide and Listerine mouthwash

This is also another wonder mixture with hydrogen peroxide. Listerine helps make the teeth cleaner and your oral cavity too therefore the mixture provides both a cleansing and whitening effect. You shall need 1 part of Listerine mouthwash and an equal part of hydrogen peroxide.

  1. Mix the two and use the mixture as a mouthwash to rinse your mouth.
  2. Then make sure that you do a rinse with clean water.
  3. Repeat this thrice a week.

Hydrogen peroxide and salt

You shall need 2 tablespoons of hydrogen peroxide and a tablespoon of salt.

  1. Add the two and rub against the sides of the container with a spoon to break the grittiness of the salt crystals.
  2. Dip your toothbrush into the mixture then brush your teeth gently. Do this for about 1 minute.
  3. Rinse your mouth thereafter and repeat about once or twice a week.

Hydrogen peroxide and lemon juice

You shall need 1 tablespoon of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and lemon juice. Lemon juice is a good bleaching agent though mild.

  1. Add about 5 drops of lemon juice and hydrogen peroxide to the baking soda. Lemon juice is acidic and baking soda is a base, therefore you will observe a fizzy behaviour upon mixing.
  2. Mix into a paste and apply on your teeth
  3. Leave for about 2 minutes then rinse with water.
  4. Repeat this twice a week.
How to use lemon juice and peroxide for whiter teeth
Lemon Juice

Hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening gels -16, 22- 40%

Not until the late 1980s were whitening strips introduced in the market. What exactly are these strips and gels?

These strips are delivery systems that administer a thin layer of peroxide gel through plastic strip. The plastic strip is manufactured in a way that makes it fit onto the buccal surfaces of the teeth. The buccal surface in this case means the inner side of the teeth just between the teeth and the cheek. They are made in varying manner by different manufacturers and in turn also bear different instructions. The strip delivers a peroxide to the teeth and are therefore known as peroxide-based gels.

The dosing of these strips is different depending on the manufacturer and there are those that you are required to apply twice daily for 30 minutes for 14 days while there are others that only require a 30 minute application time per day.

How long do they take?

Gels may take a period of about 7 days before you can actually discover a lightening by 1 or 2 shades.

There are gels that still contain hydrogen peroxide but are not delivered via a strip but rather in a tube. Such a type needs to be spread on a small brush or applicator and applied to the surface of the teeth.

Instructions may be to apply twice a day for 14 days and may take approximately the same period of time for you to discover a change in the shade in the white of your teeth.

How much?

One hydrogen peroxide tooth whitening gel known contains 16 % hydrogen peroxide. Though there are those with 6% and 10%. 16% hydrogen peroxide is good for teeth and gums that are insensitive to chemical treatments and it acts fast unlike preparations with 6% hydrogen peroxide.

For teeth that are sensitive, according to the manufacturer of this particular product, 12% or 6% is the best way to go. Some products such as Colgate Simply White Clear Whitening Gel, contains 18% carbamide peroxide. This is equivalent to 6.5% hydrogen peroxide.

22-40 % hydrogen peroxide is too high and might give the quickest best results but it is only used by dentists for in-office teeth whitening.

Excipients commonly added to the active ingredients includes dentifrices. A gelling agent such as polymer cellulose can be used such as carboxymethylcellulose or carboxypropylmethylcellulose. Others include natural gums, starches, pectins, agar-agar and gelatin.

The benefits accrued to use of whitening gels includes convenience due to use of a plastic strip, frequency and period between start and observed change.

Hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening Dangers & Side Effects Enamel & Gums

There are risks associated with this aesthetic procedure. There have been reports of increased tooth sensitivity including thermal sensitivity. This is a condition in which your teeth feel hot or cold when temperatures rise or drop and including you taking something in the extremities of temperature.

Studies such as that by Cohen, S.C., Parkins, F.M.,1970[4] and Seale, N.S., Wilson, C.F., 1985[5] indicate that peroxide is able to penetrate the pulp chambers of the teeth.

It was demonstrated that both hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide can do so in human and canine teeth in the ranges of 10% and 35% (both low and high).

In fact Cohen used 35% hydrogen peroxide and heat for 30 minutes for teeth that were to be removed for orthodontic treatment.

Mild gingival irritation

peroxide is a bleaching agent and when it tampers with the normal state of your teeth and gums, it leads to irritation. Irritation could mean that your gums inflame and result in a condition known as gingivitis. Gingival irritation begins within a day of begin treatment but there are cases in which it has lasted several days.

Is hydrogen peroxide safe for teeth enamel?

Increased susceptibility to demineralization: this means that your teeth enamel could be reduced to the level of the dentine and even to the pulp cavity.

This may lead to carries and completely damage the teeth. This is irreversible and therefore care needs to be taken to prevent use or excess hydrogen peroxide that may damage the enamel.

Other side effects of hydrogen peroxide include enamel softening, surface roughness based on in vitro findings.


[1] Christensen GJ. Are snow-white teeth really so desirable? J Am Dent Assoc. 2005; 136: 933–935.

[2] Nathoo, S.A.: The chemistry and mechanisms of extrinsic and intrinsic discoloration. JADA 128: pp. 6S–9S, 1997

[3] Goldstein, R.E.: Esthetic dentistry — a health service. J Dent Res 3: pp. 641–642, 1993

[4] Cohen, S.C., Parkins, F.M.: Bleaching tetracycline-stained vital teeth. Oral Surg Oral Med Oral Pathol 29: pp. 465–471, 1970

[5] Seale, N.S., Wilson, C.F.: Pulpal response to bleaching of teeth in dogs. Pediatr Dent 7: pp. 209–214, 1985

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