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Peroxide Free Teeth Whitening: The Verdict

Since peroxide is an acid, some people are worried that it may be harmful to the enamel for teeth whitening. In an attempt to address this concern, manufacturers have developed a new product that is sans peroxide.


Peroxide free whitening products by Hismile
Peroxide free whitening products

Yes you read that correctly, this new method of teeth whitening allegedly does not contain any peroxide. The best part is, it is supposed to be just as effective as the products with it.


Our purpose is to examine whether or not that is true. What is non-peroxide teeth whitening? Does it work and how does it make your teeth whiter? Is it the best way to whiten your teeth?


What are non peroxide teeth whitening products?

Non-peroxide teeth whitening is a form of bleaching your teeth without the use of hydrogen peroxide. The premise behind it is that it is meant to be safer since it does not contain acid in it like peroxide does. After all putting acid on your enamel doesn't sound very pleasant does it?


Examples of peroxide free whitening products:


There are a lot more to list but basically anything that is natural and does not contain the word peroxide in the ingredients is eligible to be called peroxide free.


 

Is it truly peroxide free teeth whitening?

The all natural whitening products like charcoal and coconut oil are indeed truly peroxide free. That is obvious as day because charcoal is made from charcoal and coconut oil is made from coconuts. There are no peroxides within any of those.


Nonetheless that is not what we are going to focus on today. We're here to talk about two new whitening ingredients, Phtalimidoperoxycaproic acid (PAP) and Sodium percarbonate. They're found in a lot of new products that market themselves as peroxide free but are more effective or just as effective as traditional hydrogen peroxide whitening.


The both of them are allegedly peroxide free but it is not as simple as they claim.


Phthalimidoperoxycaproic acid (PAP)

This new product's name is a mouthful so we're just going to call it PAP for short. According to PubChem in the classification section, it is still technically a peroxide. Despite the fact that the name does not contain it, it is still part of the peroxide family.


PAP+ whitening toothpaste
PAP+ whitening toothpaste

The reason why it is still classified as a peroxide is related to how it is made. PAP is actually a synthetic organic peroxy acid which is derived from caprolactam and phthalic anhydride. The key point is that peroxy acid is made by adding sulfuric acid to hydrogen peroxide.


Let me reiterate that one more time. Peroxy acid is made by adding sulfuric acid to hydrogen peroxide.


We're just not sure if you can truly call PAP peroxide free when one of the base ingredients is hydrogen peroxide. It is certainly a derivative of it, which is why PubChem classifies it as so.

Therefore the question we have for you is, would you consider it a non peroxide product?


Sodium percarbonate

Another novel peroxide free teeth whitening ingredient is sodium percarbonate but it is most often used in internal tooth whitening. Despite it not having any "peroxide" in the name, it still a part of the peroxide family just like PAP. According to PubChem, a synonym for sodium percarbonate is actually "sodium carbonate peroxide".


sodium perborate

That should be a dead give away that it is not truly a non-peroxide tooth whitening agent. Apparently this product is made by adding sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide together.


Once again, it is literally made from hydrogen peroxide so would you still consider this a peroxide free tooth whitening agent?


 

Is peroxide-free whitening effective?

The results for teeth whitening without peroxide such as PAP and sodium percarbonate are mixed. Overall it does appear that they do work and will whiten your teeth. However the claims for them being safer than traditional hydrogen peroxide are actually unclear.


Research for Phtalimidoperoxycaproic acid (PAP)

A study by the Journal of Applied Oral Science found that PAP was effective in whitening teeth, showing results immediately after treatment and also 24 hours post treatment.


The efficacy of it being a tooth whitener was verified by another study. In addition to the whitening ability, they also found that it was safer than traditional peroxide whitening. The results showed that PAP did not affect the microhardness of enamel. In other words, it was not harmful to your tooth's enamel when used.


However in a study by the British Dental Journal, they did find that PAP had the potential to damage enamel. That is in stark contrast to the previous study from above. Nonetheless, the results did show an improvement in tooth color.


To summarize, all of the studies found that PAP will whiten your teeth. The safety or rather whether or not it has any effect on your enamel's integrity is unclear. Since the results are not definitive for the latter, we cannot say for certain whether they are safer or not


Research for sodium percarbonate

Studies have shown that sodium percarbonate is effective in whitening teeth.

  • A 19% sodium percarbonate product was used at night for 14 days.

  • Results: Teeth were lighter when compared to the control group.

  • Adverse effect: Teeth sensitivity.


A different study also found that it was effective as a bleaching agent. The only notable adverse effect was sensitivity but none of the test subjects discontinued treatment due to it.


 

Verdict

Non-peroxide teeth whitening agents can be effective in whitening teeth. Since they do what they say they will do, you may go ahead and use them if you'd like.


However you should keep in mind that some of these peroxide free whitening gels are still derived from hydrogen peroxide. In other words they are not "free of peroxide" as you may have initially thought.


Aside from there another benefit that these products advertise is that they are safer on your enamel. That may be possibly true but there isn't definitive evidence of it. The studies so far have been mixed with some showing adverse effects while others showing none.


Our dentists in Long Island City do not believe that the "safety" of these products should be a major concern nor a deterrent for you to use them. Teeth whitening has been shown to be relatively safe but if you're worried you can get professional in-office whitening with us.

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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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