Yes, hydrogen peroxide whitens teeth.
More Info: Almost every tooth-whitening product contains peroxide as an essential ingredient, and the two types used are hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide. They break down, and this allows oxygen to enter the enamel of our teeth. When they are used properly and in safe amounts, they usually do not cause any harmful side effects.
Dental products on the market contain peroxide in varying strengths. Those with more peroxide can produce tooth whitening that is both quick and dramatic, but they also create tooth sensitivity that is both temporary and uncomfortable. Certain products are also PH-buffered, which reduces the possibility of any side effects.
Why Hydrogen Peroxide Works
Hydrogen peroxide’s whitening power is based upon its ability to penetrate dentin in the tooth enamel where most stains can be found. It is known for its effectiveness in combating stains from food, beverages, smoking, and poor oral hygiene. It may also be helpful for those whose teeth have become stained from tetracycline use, but to achieve satisfactory results, a lengthier course of treatment may be necessary.
Hydrogen peroxide is also found in teeth-whitening strips, and since the topical gel on them is clear, the strips can be worn inconspicuously throughout the day. Because the strips must be pressed down into the teeth’s cracks and crevices, the application can be uneven, and some areas may become whiter than others may.
Hydrogen Peroxide Risks
Note that while hydrogen peroxide is generally thought to be a safe product with many uses, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is not involved in the regulation of teeth whitening products. It can cause various side effects, such as gum irritation and tooth sensitivity, and the intensity of side effects varies from one person to another. If you are already being treated for a dental problem, consult your dentist before beginning any tooth-whitening regime.
If you begin using a product containing hydrogen peroxide and run into a problem, you can stop using that product, even if you haven’t completed the full treatment schedule. On the other hand, if the results aren’t satisfactory, you can begin another treatment of one to weeks, according to the product’s instructions. In addition, hydrogen peroxide has a relatively short shelf life, so it should be used promptly. Otherwise, it will degrade eventually and lose some or all of its effectiveness.
Price DDS, MS, MRCD(C), FDS, RCS(Edin) , Richard, Mary Sedarous, B.Sc., and Gregory Hiltz, B.Sc.(Hon.), DDS. “The pH of Tooth-Whitening Products .” Journal of the Canadian Dental Association 66.8 (200): 421-426. Canadian Dental Association. Web. 2 Aug. 2010.
“Slideshow: 10 Secrets to Whiter Teeth.” WebMD – Better information. Better health.. N.p., n.d. Web. 2 Aug. 2010. http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/slideshow-10-secrets-to-whiter-teeth.
“Limited Shelf Life Chemicals.” Western Connecticut State University. N.p., 15 May 2002. Web. 2 Aug. 2010. www.wcsu.edu/efs/HS_pdffiles/E113_LSLC.pdf.