Published: 10/20/2014

For a century or more, hydrogen peroxide has been used medicinally as everything from a topical disinfectant to a bleaching agent. While the compound – identified chemically as H2O2 – has been shown to be somewhat ineffective in the former application, its strong oxidizing power makes it a standout performer in the latter.

Why Do Teeth Stain?

Teeth become stained for a number of reasons – most notably, everyday drinks such as coffee, red wine, and tea will discolor teeth in a relatively short period of time. In addition, tobacco and certain medications can also lead to brown, yellow or even spotted teeth. The removal of these stains is most often accomplished by the use of a powerful oxidant such as hydrogen peroxide.

Is Hydrogen Peroxide Safe?

Dental professionals use hydrogen peroxide in a fairly concentrated form – typically in the 35%-40% range – for maximum bleaching effect. While this use is 100% safe, precautions must be taken such as the use of dental dams and protective gels to protect sensitive gum areas. In addition, lasers may be used to enhance or accelerate the whitening process.

Unfortunately, there are also home-made recipes that combine baking soda, salt and hydrogen peroxide to make a so-called “natural” whitening toothpaste. Although not particularly dangerous, these concoctions sometimes use the H2O2 in concentrations that are too high and that can lead to both tooth tenderness and gum inflammation.

The Bottom Line

There are a number of products on the market that claim to “whiten” teeth. They range from home-made remedies through the carboxide-based toothpastes that only remove the surface stains on teeth to the professional dental products that actually bleach the teeth back to their natural color. They all work to a certain degree, but the real answer to white teeth is with hydrogen peroxide and the professionals.

For more information on this and other teeth whitening topics, please contact Dr. Genninger and his team by phone at 813-968-4808.

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