Hydrogen Peroxide Teeth Whitening is More Dangerous Than Previously Thought

Brilliant white and perfectly matched teeth are considered a symbol of beauty and self-care in this country today. Statistics for 2018 indicate that 40.5 million people in the USA used tooth whitening products. We spend more than $1 billion every year on teeth whitening products. New research released this week shows that these whitening products might be causing tooth damage, as with tooth whitening strip - paid - shutterstock 1064100836

Several studies have demonstrated that most human teeth are not naturally pearly white. Most teeth are actually different shades and tints that tend more toward yellow than white. The studies also show that natural teeth are not all completely uniform in color.

Following upon several studies that have shown that hydrogen peroxide can damage teeth, researchers at Stockton University wanted to learn how hydrogen peroxide harms the teeth, and which part of the tooth it attacks. Specifically, they investigated the whitening strips you can buy in your local drug store and how they damage one of the three layers of the tooth.

About Hydrogen Peroxide

The main ingredient in over-the-counter whitening strips is usually hydrogen peroxide. It is an oxidizing agent that has many uses. It is used as a sterilizer for wounds.

It is also used as a color-lightening agent that is used to bleach hair. As many have learned the hard way, if you use too much hydrogen peroxide to lighten hair, or if you use it too often, it can seriously damage your hair and scalp.

The new research discovered that hydrogen peroxide damages the dentin of the tooth, the “middle layer.” Your tooth has three layers:

  1. An outer, shiny enamel layer
  2. A center dentin layer
  3. An inner layer composed primarily of connective tissue that helps to keep the tooth in place.

Effect of Hydrogen Peroxide on the Tooth

The researchers found that hydrogen peroxide can penetrate through the enamel and infiltrate dentin. This layer contains about 90-95 percent of the protein collagen. Specifically, they found that the hydrogen peroxide fragments the collagen in the dentin. This causes a loss of collagen mass in the dentin layer of the tooth.

The authors of the study wrote: “Our results showed that treatment with hydrogen peroxide concentrations similar to those found in whitening strips is enough to make the original collagen protein disappear, which is presumably due to the formation of many smaller fragments.”

The collagen in the dentin and the connective tissue that keeps the tooth in the jaw aids in mineralization and stability. It is also crucial for improving bone density, which is essential to healthy teeth.

At this time, the researchers are not certain whether this damage is permanent or if it can be reversed. Their plan to determine whether the hydrogen peroxide affects other proteins contained in the dentin, as well.

If you are one of the millions of people using over-the-counter tooth whitening strips, you should know that the hydrogen peroxide used may be harming your teeth. If you wish to continue a whitening regimen, see your dentist and discuss the best whitening option for your needs.

Arthritis and Jaw Pain

Is there a connection between arthritis and jaw pain? The short answer: Yes, in a number of cases. Here is a more complete answer.

Arthritishuman jaw model - paid - Depositphotos 11130577 m-2015

There are more than 100 types of arthritis and related rheumatic diseases. A list of those can be found here: Each type of arthritis has a unique characteristic in terms of its cause and its pattern.

The most common type of arthritis is osteoarthritis. This is the “wear and tear” form that degrades some joints through overuse. Because it is caused by overuse, it typically manifests as we age.

Other types of arthritis (including rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis) are caused by an autoimmune defect that causes the immune system to attack healthy joints by mistake. When this happens, the joint tissues become inflamed, swollen, twisted, and painful. Arthritis can affect any joint in the body. The autoimmune forms can also affect other types of tissues.

The Human Jaw

The jaw is composed of several complex joints. The movement of the joints is assisted by muscles, bones and soft tissues. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and others are used consistently in eating, speaking, yawning, swallowing and some facial movements and expressions. Many people grind their teeth either when awake or when asleep (or both). Grinding puts a great deal of stress on these joints that are frequently used.

When a form of arthritis attacks or invades the joints of the jaw, particularly the temporomandibular joint, it typically causes inflammation, swelling, distortion and pain. More severe cases of arthritis affecting the joint can also limit joint movement and/or the ability to open one’s mouth and keep it open for any time.

How Arthritis Affects the Jaw

A large number of people with rheumatoid arthritis also have TMJ problems and experience jaw pain. One study estimated that as many as 90% of rheumatoid arthritis patients also have TMD. It seems that the effects of rheumatoid arthritis on the joints in the hands is a good indication of TMD severity.

Both rheumatoid arthritis and TMJ are more common in women: about three times as many women than men have rheumatoid arthritis.

Psoriatic arthritis can also affect the jaw. It also causes pain, swelling, stiffness. It has also been shown to be a cause of teeth grinding and a range of other dental issues, including tooth loss. A recent study found that as many as 35% of people who have psoriatic arthritis also have jaw pain.

Arthritis affects the jaw by causing narrowing in the joint space, joint and bone erosion, bone deformity, and eventually complete disappearance of joint space. In addition to pain, the jaw may make cracking, crunching, or grinding sounds. The ability to open one’s mouth may become limited.


Physiotherapy has been of no long-term benefit according to repeated studies. The effects of arthritis upon the jaw are treated in much the same way as other joints. Initial treatment with NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), application of heat, and steroids is typical. These drugs help to reduce pain and inflammation. The second tier of medications are typically DMARDS (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs) which promote remission of the disease and prevention of additional damage to affected joints. In some cases, pain can be relieved by injecting local anesthetics and sometimes arthroscopic surgery.

The best test for damage due to arthritis is the CBCT, a relatively new approach to imaging. This type of imaging detects early effects of arthritis upon the jaw more accurately than traditional X-rays.

What You Can Do

Arthritis in the jaw is painful. As the disease progresses, movement may become limited. The jaw is essential in speaking and eating. There are some things you can do to complement your doctor’s or dentist’s treatment. These include:

  • Change your diet to include more soft foods that are easier to chew.
  • Avoid chewy candy and chewing gum.
  • Avoid opening your mouth any wider than absolutely necessary when eating, talking or yawning.
  • Apply ice or heat to your jaw area. Try both ice and heat to discover which treatment is most effective for you. If you find heat to be most effective, moist heat will be most effective.
  • Mouth guards can be custom designed and fitted by your dentist, or braces can be used, to hold your jaw in the optimal position. These devices often need to be used for only a few hours per day. Your dentist will explain how and when you can derive the greatest benefit from these devices.
  • Ask your doctor and dentist about possible benefits of acupuncture. Your doctor or dentist can refer you to a good acupuncturist. Some people find this particularly effective.
  • Take medications prescribed by your rheumatologist or dentist regularly and as prescribed.
  • Know what kind of side effects of your medications could affect your mouth. Some of the medications can make you more susceptible to infections (Candida or Thrush), some (e.g., Methotrexate) can cause mouth ulcers. These can often be treated with folic acid. Discuss any reactions or infections with your doctor immediately.


Rheumatoid arthritis and Psoriatic arthritis are two forms of the disease that often affect the jaw. Early diagnosis and treatment can assist in pain management and in reducing inflammation. If you have arthritis and you have pain, popping sounds, or other crunching or grinding sounds when you move your jaw, it is wise to see your dentist and your rheumatologist immediately. Prompt treatment is key to controlling the effects of arthritis on the jaw and relieving pain.

Some rheumatologists and some dentists may work together to treat your jaw pain. The goal of all treatment is to reduce your pain and limit the future damage the arthritis may cause. At Complete Dental Care in Salem VA, Dr Wallace is eager to work with your rheumatologist to coordinate your treatment.

Could Some Dental Floss Be Harmful?

Some flosses may increase your exposure to toxic chemicals. Pre- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are waterproof and greaseproof substances are used in many products. Products include fast food containers (coated cardboard packaging), certain types of clothing, stain-resistant rugs/carpets and furniture, and some brands of dental dental floss - sm - free image - dreamstimefree 259779floss. In addition to our contact with them in these and other products, PFAS are also present in some contaminated water and some dust.

Most important, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is that these manmade chemicals continue to build up in the body and never break down. Some studies have shown a link of PFAS and high cholesterol, kidney cancer, testicular cancer, and thyroid disease.

The biggest surprise in the study (by scientists from the Silent Spring Institute and the Public Health Institute in Berkeley, CA), was the discovery that some brands of dental floss result in elevated levels of PFAs: Glide flosses and three non-Glide flosses were positive for fluorine.

What can you do? Buy and use dental floss that does not contain PFAS. When buying carryout meals, try to avoid the coated cardboard containers. Ask me when you come in for your next dental appointment about any additional research or any other actions that may help you restrict these chemicals.

Cancerous Pancreatic Cysts and Endoscopy

A new study has found that oral bacteria in “cystic pancreatic tumors” is associated with the severity of the tumors. Not all pancreatic tumors are cancerous. These cystic pancreatic tumors (pancreatic cysts) are often benign. Some of them, however, can become cancerous. Perhaps more important, it is difficult to identify which cystic pancreatic digestive system - pancreas highlight  - pixabay cco free -41529 1280tumors will become cancerous.

Until now, this differentiation was only possible with surgery. Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have discovered that the differentiation, and determination of the severity of the tumor, can be made based on bacteria inside the cystic tumor.

One reason pancreatic cancer is so deadly is that it is often discovered only late in its process. The new research is able to find the bacteria at a time when the cysts are only beginning to show signs of cancer. They are able to isolate the bacterial DNA in fluid from the cancerous cysts. These cysts (tumors) should be surgically removed. The researchers hope this kind of testing and identification of oral bacteria will reduce the number of diagnostic surgical procedures performed and reduce the number of procedures performed to remove benign cysts.

But how does oral bacteria enter the pancreas? One mechanism is in the invasive pancreas endoscopy. These researchers found that the amount of bacterial DNA was higher in patients who had undergone pancreatic endoscopy. This procedure inserts a flexible tube into the mouth and down the throat. They believe that without adequate removal of the bacteria prior to the endoscopy, some of the bacteria is transmitted by the flexible tube.

The value of the research is not conclusive at this time. First, the findings of this study need to be corroborated with additional studies. Second, although endoscopy explains the presence of the bacteria in the pancreas of some patients, it does not explain it in all patients. Therefore, additional study is needed to determine why and how the oral bacteria are introduced into the pancreas.

The study is promising. It indicates that the likelihood of transference during endoscopy can be reduced by rinsing the mouth with an antibacterial agent and good oral hygiene prior to an endoscopy. Much remains to be tested and confirmed before developing new treatments and diagnostic tests. It is encouraging to think that we may be approaching a new treatment protocol to reduce incidences of cancerous cystic pancreatic tumors and to treat them before they become deadly.

How To Stop Bleeding Gums

There are many causes of bleeding gums. One question we are asked frequently is, “What can I do at home to stop bleeding gums?” Bleeding is one of the indications of gum disease, and therefore it should be taken seriously.

According to a recent study (Crest), 60% of people have experienced gum bleeding. One in three people think bleeding gums is normal. Among the signs of gum disease are: bad breath, swollen gums, receding gums, and loose teeth.  bleeding gums - paid Depositphotos 182555064 m-2015

Causes of bleeding gums

  1. The buildup of plaque on your gums can cause gingivitis. This causes inflammation and bleeding.
  2. Deficiencies of Vitamin C and/or Vitamin K.
  3. Infected gums.
  4. The hormonal changes that accompany pregnancy may cause bleeding gums.
  5. Poor oral hygiene. Not brushing twice daily.
  6. Smoking and vaping.
  7. Diet.
  8. Leukemia.
  9. Scurvy.
  10. Use of blood thinners.
  11. Using a toothbrush that is too stiff or hard.
  12. Using a worn and frayed toothbrush that does not clean teeth and gums effectively.
  13. Being too rough when flossing. Remember to push down gently and hug the sides of each tooth.
  14. Some medications that can thin the blood a bit: some prescription medications, aspirin, ibuprofen.

How to Stop the Bleeding

Minor gum bleeding can often be treated at home. If you try any of these remedies and your gums continue to bleed, see your dentist immediately. Remember that there are many types of bacteria in your mouth. If your gums become infected, you risk the spread of that infection.

Here are some home/natural remedies you might want to try at home.

  1. Use gauze to stop the bleeding. Press a clean and damp gauze pad against the bleeding area gently. Hold it in place until the bleeding stops. If your immune system is compromised or you take a blood thinner, expect the treatment to take a bit longer.
  2. Use a small ice pack. Hold a cold compress, a small ice pack, or an ice cube against the bleeding area.
  3. Use mouthwash. This will treat the bleeding gums and prevent further bleeding. The ingredients in mouthwash that kill bacteria and stop bleeding are chlorohexidine and hydrogen peroxide.
  4. Rinse with warm salt water several times each day.
  5. Make a paste of turmeric and apply it to the gums.
  6. Rinse with hydrogen peroxide (be sure to spit it out and not swallow).
  7. For sensitive gums, you might choose an “extra soft” toothbrush.
  8. Floss gently every day.
  9. Avoid smoking or vaping.
  10. Avoid starchy processed foods and sugary foods.
  11. Eat crunchy vegetables (celery, carrots, for example). The crunchiness can help to remove food particles from your teeth.
  12. Eat more leafy greens in your diet. People with a Vitamin K deficiency require more time for the blood to clot, and see more bleeding of the gums.
  13. Use an anti-gingivitis toothpaste.
  14. Apply some raw honey to the affected area and gently massage the gums.
  15. Drink some unsweetened cranberry juice each day.
  16. Manage your stress.
  17. Be careful about sharing with your partner. Gum disease and bleeding gums are contagious.
  18. Drink green tea daily. It contains catechin, a natural antioxidant that can lower the inflammatory response to oral bacteria.

Remember to see your dentist twice each year for a checkup and cleaning. Your dentist will be able to help you improve your oral health and prevent bleeding gums.


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