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You Shouldn't Brush Your Teeth With Hydrogen Peroxide

Despite hydrogen peroxide being the primary whitening agent in whitening products, you should not brush your teeth with it because it's not effective. Yes, some whitening toothpastes do contain it as an ingredient but its in a much more usable form than straight peroxide from the bottle.


hydrogen peroxide in brown bottle

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Can you really brush with peroxide?

Of course you can because there are already plenty of toothpastes out there with hydrogen peroxide in its formulation. It is all prepackaged for you so you don't even need to create your own toothpaste. Simply walk into a market or pharmacy, pick one up, and start brushing.


Examples of peroxide-based toothpastes:

  • Colgate Optic White - Pro series toothpaste, Renewal, Advanced whitening

  • Colgate baking soda with peroxide

  • Crest 3D white brilliance

  • Arm and hammer peroxicare

  • Rembrandt deeply white


colgate optic white toothpastes

How to use them:

  1. Apply toothpaste on wet toothbrush.

  2. Brush all of your teeth for a total of two minutes.

  3. Spit out and rinse thoroughly.


There really aren't any special instructions for toothpastes with hydrogen peroxide. You use them and treat them as if they were any regular old toothpaste. The only difference is that you'll most likely notice whiter teeth if you happen to switch to using one.


Brushing with liquid hydrogen peroxide

People like to DIY a lot of things and toothpaste is no exception. You may be wondering if that little brown bottle of antiseptic in your medicine cabinet is the same thing... Yes, it is the same ingredient.


However, we don't recommend brushing hydrogen peroxide directly on your teeth because it isn't very practical nor is it effective.


Since the peroxide comes in a liquid form, if you pour it on the toothbrush most of it would just drizzle off. Very little of it would actually make it to your teeth to do its whitening ability. It is much easier to just buy a premade toothpaste version of it because the gel helps it stay on your teeth. It'll be less messy and you'll be happier with the results overall.


Although if you insist on making your own concoction, we would recommend making it into a paste:

  1. Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to a small cup.

  2. Add about 1 teaspoon or more of peroxide to the mixture.

  3. Lightly stir until it becomes a paste. Add more peroxide if you need to.

  4. Apply mixture to your toothbrush and brush for 2 minutes.

  5. Spit out and rinse thoroughly.


baking soda whole foods 365

It is still of our opinion that it is a lot of work to make on your own and you're really not saving that much money. You can purchase about a 5 pack of 8 oz tubes of the colgate baking soda peroxide for about $19 total. That comes out to less than $4 a tube and these are pretty big tubes because they're in 8 oz size.


Is it safe to brush your teeth with hydrogen peroxide?

When used as directed, it is safe to brush your teeth with hydrogen peroxide. In fact, it is safe enough for you to brush with it twice a day. As for evidence, look no further than Colgate's Optic White line of products.


The Colgate® Optic White® Pro Series is safe to use every day. It contains hydrogen peroxide to remove stains while keeping your enamel safe from damage.

Rest assured because unlike other products with peroxide in it, toothpaste formulations were carefully crafted to be safely used on a daily basis. We'll run through a couple of reasons as to why they are able to be used so frequently.


Low concentration

What makes these toothpastes with peroxide in them safe to use is the fact that the concentration is very low. The vast majority of them have less than 1% hydrogen peroxide in the toothpaste formulation. Evidence of that is they don't even list the percentage on the label at all.


What that means is that little brown bottle of antiseptic that you keep in your medicine cabinet is actually more potent. Some people use it as a mouth rinse and they're still fine afterwards. That means you brushing with it will be no problem either.


The only exceptions would be the optic white pro series and the crest 3D white professional ultra toothpaste. Those have 5% and 4% hydrogen peroxide respectively. However these are still significantly less potent than the 40% in-office treatment that your dentist provides!


opalescence boost 40% peroxide

Two minute brushing time

Another often overlooked factor is the fact that you only brush your teeth for two minutes. In other words the exposure time of your teeth to peroxide is very short in duration.


You can compare that to KoR in-office bleaching which uses a high concentration for 3x twenty minute sessions back to back. The time that it took for that one at the dentist treatment is equivalent to brushing twice a day for 15 days.


kor teeth whitening

Of course you can brush your teeth longer to extend the duration but most people don't. We'd probably guess that people typically don't even brush for the two full minutes anyway...


Overall it is a combination of using a low concentration peroxide product for a short duration of time. Basically very little harm will befall your teeth due to this.


Studies have shown that lower concentration products can be used for a longer period of time without harming the nerve. On the contrary, higher concentration ones can only be used for short periods of time due to potential nerve insult.


Exposed to saliva

This last condition is one that very few people are aware of. Your saliva is the arch nemesis for hydrogen peroxide and teeth whitening. It naturally contains salivary peroxidases which are enzymes in the saliva that break down peroxide.


In other words, our saliva will naturally decompose peroxide whenever it comes into contact with it. It is a defensive mechanism that our body has to protect it from harmful bacteria.


Unfortunately that same defensive mechanism is also going to slow down our whitening progress. Basically for brushing with hydrogen peroxide, there is no protection against saliva. Once we start brushing, the saliva immediately comes into contact with it. That means it is a race against the clock to whiten your teeth or get inactivated by saliva.


On a side note, whitening products that do offer some type of protection or barrier against saliva does increase its efficacy. In other words, whitening strips have an advantage over toothpaste because the strips act as a barrier. Also when you whiten at the dentist, they have a saliva ejector that removes saliva from your mouth.


Takeaway

You can definitely use peroxide for brushing your teeth but not in its pure liquid form. The reasons are that it is messy and won't work very well. However there are plenty of toothpaste formulations which already have it pre-mixed inside which you can easily purchase. They're inexpensive so there is no reason why you can't buy them.


Last but not least, hydrogen peroxide in toothpaste may not be the most efficient nor effective for whitening your teeth but it's still good to use. Typically for whitening your teeth, you will want to throw everything including the kitchen sink at it. This is especially true if your teeth are stubborn and don't want to change colors.


Nonetheless, if you're not getting the results you want, perhaps some professional teeth whitening may be better for you.

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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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