Hydrogen peroxide is a key ingredient in most of the home teeth whitening kits that are available on the market today. Home use hydrogen peroxide, in the right dilution, is a cheap and easy way to obtain white teeth.
It may seem strange that such a harsh chemical compound could be used safely in a person's mouth, however the teeth bleaching kits that you can buy for home use actually have a very diluted concentration of hydrogen peroxide that is much gentler on your gums, and will not damage the interior of your mouth. Other tooth whitening kits use a compound called carbamide peroxide that breaks down into hydrogen peroxide as it makes contact with your mouth.
Hydrogen Peroxide is a highly reactive chemical made of hydrogen and oxygen. This chemical is widely used to bleach paper and textile, and is used as a disinfectant in the medical field and in the household and is also the main ingredient used to whiten your teeth. Normal concentrations are around 3% and can go as high as 10%. In general, the more peroxide, the greater the whitening power.
Hydrogen peroxide can be got in almost nearly every drug store for around a $1. It was originally marketed as a paint remover but in the last decade it has found itself in the dental arena as a means of whitening teeth cheaply, in response to the absurd prices charged by dental practices.
The majority of these teeth whiteners are applied to the teeth by filling up teeth trays with a whitening gel and then fitting these teeth trays over the teeth and leaving them for a specified amount of time while the hydrogen peroxide-based gel works.
Although teeth whitening peroxide has been declared safe by the FDA, there are still some risk of side effects. They're not particularly dangerous, but things such as mild tooth sensitivity and gum pain are not uncommon. Discontinuing the treatments usually causes the discomfort to go away. Throat soreness is another, less typical side effect. This can be minimized by not swallowing any of the peroxide and not keeping it in your mouth for longer than recommended.
As is the case with most things, excess use of teeth whitening peroxide can be harmful to your teeth. Overuse can cause damage to teeth enamel and the tissue inside your mouth. As a general rule limit peroxide use to daily treatments for only a couple weeks at a time or a couple times a week for a month or two. It's very important that you avoid overuse.
Because Hydrogen peroxide is such a highly reactive chemical the two most common side effects are mouth and gum irritation plus increased tooth sensitivity to temperature changes, however both effects are temporary. Hydrogen peroxide works so well because it can easily pass through your teeth enamel and begin interacting with the dentine and pulp part of your tooth. Studies have shown that this does not harm or effect the enamel part of your tooth and is considered safe by the ADA.
It is important never to swallow hydrogen peroxide as it can react badly with the natural acids, like vitamin k, in your stomach, that digest your food properly. And if you have cuts in your mouth, than in no circumstances use it, as it will ''eat'' into your gum tissue like methylated spirits.
Hydrogen peroxide and Carbamide peroxide should not be confused as they are very different from each other.
Hydrogen Peroxide cannot change the color of fillings, porcelain teeth, ceramic teeth, gold teeth or other restorative materials because the hydrogen cannot penetrate the surface layers of these materials. However it can effect more porous dental work such as cements, and dental amalgams.