Product Reviews
Updated on February 2, 2023
5 min read

Hydrogen Peroxide Teeth Whitening

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Is Hydrogen Peroxide Safe For Teeth? (According to Science)

Hydrogen peroxide (HP) is the main ingredient in most teeth whitening products. It's used in professional, in-office treatments and over-the-counter teeth whitening products.

HP is also used in:

  • Household cleaning items
  • Antibacterial mouthwashes
  • Natural bleaching products
  • Antiseptic products

According to science, hydrogen peroxide is safe for your teeth when used correctly.1, 2, 4, 6, 7 

At a low concentration of 2 percent or less, hydrogen peroxide does not damage hard or soft oral tissues.11 You can use it daily in self-administered oral health care products like mouth rinses.

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How Does Hydrogen Peroxide Whiten Your Teeth?

At-home teeth bleaching products typically contain 5 to 10 percent hydrogen peroxide or 35 percent carbamide peroxide. They are applied for 10 to 30 minutes for multiple days in a row.

In-office treatments contain 25 to 40 percent hydrogen peroxide and stay on your teeth for a shorter time.

Hydrogen peroxide whitens your teeth by oxidizing them. It does not cause significant changes in tooth enamel.2

However, sometimes tooth whitening can cause sensitivity. This risk is increased if you have to leave the serum on your teeth for a long time or there is a very high concentration of hydrogen peroxide in the teeth whitening product.3, 4

Hydrogen Peroxide vs. Carbamide Peroxide

The two main ingredients you will see in teeth whitening products are hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide. They are both effective ingredients for teeth whitening.

Carbamide peroxide is a water-soluble, white crystalline solid compound. It is made of carbamide, also known as urea, and hydrogen peroxide.

Hydrogen peroxide is a natural bleaching agent, antiseptic, and oxidizer. In its purest form, it's a light blue liquid with the chemical formula H2O2.

Are There Any Side Effects of Hydrogen Peroxide?

Tooth sensitivity is the most common side effect of hydrogen peroxide whitening solutions.

Other potential side effects include damage to the enamel surface and gum irritation. But these two side effects are rare.3, 9, 10 

The risk of adverse effects is increased if:

  • You leave the whitening treatment on your teeth longer than recommended (the recommended time varies by product)
  • You use the bleaching agent more frequently than recommended (usually once a day)
  • The whitening treatment has extra high concentrations of the active ingredient (over 10 percent hydrogen peroxide or over 35 percent carbamide peroxide for at-home treatments)

How to Use Hydrogen Peroxide for Teeth Whitening

Here are some ways to whiten your teeth with hydrogen peroxide:

1. DIY Treatments

NewMouth doesn't recommend DIY teeth whitening. These methods can be effective if done correctly. However, there is a much higher risk of adverse effects.

We recommend using over-the-counter treatments or commercial teeth whitening at a dentist’s office.

Two ways people use hydrogen peroxide to whiten their teeth themselves are:

Hydrogen Peroxide Rinse

To make a hydrogen peroxide rinse at home, follow these steps:

  1. Mix hydrogen peroxide with water at a 1:1 ratio
  2. Swish the mixture in your mouth for 30 seconds to 1 minute
  3. Spit out the solution (do not swallow)

Accidentally swallowing household hydrogen peroxide might cause:

  • Stomach upset
  • Vomiting
  • Throat irritation

Swallowing a higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide can cause severe stomach irritation and burns that require possible hospital admission.

Hydrogen Peroxide Paste

You can make hydrogen peroxide paste by following these steps:

  1. Put two or three teaspoons of baking soda in a bowl with a splash of hydrogen peroxide
  2. Mix the substances together with a clean spoon until you get a smooth, thick paste
  3. Use a toothbrush to rub the paste directly on your teeth in small circles before leaving on for two minutes
  4. Rinse off the paste by swishing water in your mouth several times

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), using a hydrogen peroxide mouthwash with a concentration higher than 3 percent is not safe. It can be irritating to the soft tissues in the mouth.

Hydrogen peroxide rinses and pastes can be too strong, potentially causing adverse reactions like:

  • Enamel erosion
  • Gum pain
  • Tooth sensitivity

Gas embolism can also occur. It occurs when a person ingests a high volume of hydrogen peroxide and the resultant air bubbles block the blood vessels.

Though very rare, this condition can be life-threatening. Emergency medical attention is required.

2. Over-the-Counter Treatments

There are several methods for whitening your teeth at home that are safe and effective. Always consult your dentist beforehand and follow the instructions for each product carefully.

These products include:

When using a hydrogen peroxide mouthwash, make sure it contains a concentration of 3 percent or less to avoid adverse effects like burning or pain.

Teeth whitening strips and teeth whitening kits are safe and effective ways to whiten teeth at home.

If you have sensitive teeth, LED whitening kits may be a better option. They typically stay on your teeth for less time.

3. In-Office Treatments

Your local dentist probably offers teeth whitening treatment.

The main difference between in-office treatment and over-the-counter products is that your dentist will use a much higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide.

This means you will need fewer treatments. However, it will likely cost you more money. 

If you’re considering in-office teeth whitening, call your dentist for professional advice.

What is the Best Way to Whiten Your Teeth?

NewMouth recommends over-the-counter products for whitening teeth. They are effective and affordable.

Professional whitening treatments are also extremely effective. You'll see results almost instantly.

However, professional whitening is more expensive than self-administered products.

These two methods produce identical results, according to multiple scientific studies.1, 4, 7, 8 But at-home options need to be used more often to achieve the same results.

Last updated on February 2, 2023
11 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 2, 2023
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Heymann, H O. “Tooth Whitening: Facts and Fallacies.” Nature News, British Dental Journal, 2005. 
  2. Eimar, et al. “Hydrogen Peroxide Whitens Teeth by Oxidizing the Organic Structure.” Journal of Dentistry, Elsevier, 2012. 
  3. Cvikl, et al. “Enamel Surface Changes After Exposure to Bleaching Gels Containing Carbamide Peroxide or Hydrogen Peroxide.” Operative Dentistry, Allen Press, 2016. 
  4. Basting, et al. “Clinical Comparative Study of the Effectiveness of and Tooth Sensitivity to 10% and 20% Carbamide Peroxide Home-Use and 35% and 38% Hydrogen Peroxide In-Office Bleaching Materials Containing Desensitizing Agents.” Operative Dentistry, Allen Press, 2012. 
  5. Abouassi, et al. “Effect of Carbamide Peroxide and Hydrogen Peroxide on Enamel Surface: an in Vitro Study.” Clinical Oral Investigations, Springer-Verlag, 2010.
  6. Mokhlis, et al. “A Clinical Evaluation of Carbamide Peroxide and Hydrogen Peroxide Whitening Agents during Daytime Use.” Journal of the American Dental Association, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2000.
  7. Zekonis, et al. “Clinical Evaluation of in-Office and at-Home Bleaching Treatments.” Operative Dentistry, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2003. 
  8. Gerlach, et al. “A Randomized Clinical Trial Comparing a Novel 5.3% Hydrogen Peroxide Whitening Strip to 10%, 15%, and 20% Carbamide Peroxide Tray-Based Bleaching Systems.” Compendium of Continuing Education in Dentistry, Europe PMC, 2000. 
  9. Tredwin, et al. “Hydrogen Peroxide Tooth-Whitening (Bleaching) Products: Review of Adverse Effects and Safety Issues.” British Dental Journal, Nature Publishing Group, 2006.
  10. Bistey, et al. “In Vitro FT-IR Study of the Effects of Hydrogen Peroxide on Superficial Tooth Enamel.” Journal of Dentistry, Elsevier, 2006.
  11. Walsh, LJ. "Safety issues relating to the use of hydrogen peroxide in dentistry." Australian Dental Journal, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2008.
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