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 well.man 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.