Hydrogen peroxide is known for its teeth whitening effect. But, is there more to it when it comes to improving your overall oral health?

This post will help you to understand how hydrogen peroxide works and what it does to your teeth.

Teeth Whitening Fad

One of the most popular teeth whitening treatments is hydrogen peroxide. With the growing popularity of tooth whitening in recent years, more expensive products come on the market.

As people try to look for cheaper alternatives the focus falls on hydrogen peroxide which is one of the main ingredients found in most teeth whitening agents.

What is Hydrogen Peroxide?

Scientifically known as a chemical compound with the formula H2O2, hydrogen peroxide is a simple bleaching agent, disinfectant, and a cleaning agent.

It is safe on low concentrations, such as 6%, but most of its over-the-counter forms are not suitable for ingestion. Higher concentration and improper use could be fatal. As an oxidizer, it is also highly corrosive and may damage the skin.

What Are Some Facts and Myths About HP?

The Internet is flooded with posts applauding the many benefits of hydrogen peroxide including its ability to treat cancer, AIDS and lung diseases! But, they have no scientific basis and need further studies for confirmation. Until then, all these findings are myths.

Here’s a list of hydrogen peroxide myths:

  • A $3 hydrogen peroxide bottle cures foot fungus and infections. While it is known for its antibacterial properties, there is no concrete research supporting its antifungal effect. Peroxide kills bacteria, but infections may require antibiotic treatment and not just a dab of peroxide on wounds.
  • Its fizzing (and burning pain), when poured over your wound, is a sign that your wound is being cleaned and the bacteria are being killed. In reality, hydrogen peroxide breaks apart as it contacts blood creating the sizzles.
  • Peroxide is super water and safe for use. While hydrogen peroxide is safe to use on the tooth surface, for teeth whitening, FDA warns that it is not safe for ingestion. If used inappropriately, it could kill you, especially when you drink it in large concentrations.

Here are some known facts about hydrogen peroxide:

  • A weak solution of H2O2is used in watering the plants. It aids root development and heals decaying roots.
  • During the early years after its discovery was used in restoring old paintings. The chemical compound was used to remove sulfur from the surface of paintings.
  • It is commonly used for pulp and paper bleaching
  • It is used as a fuel by some satellites
  • It is used as one of the ingredients of glow sticks
  • Rainwater has a small amount of hydrogen peroxide
  • The white blood cells in our body produce hydrogen peroxide to combat infections and bacteria

Does Hydrogen Peroxide Help or Hurt Your Teeth?

You probably know what hydrogen peroxide is, and perhaps you have one of its brown plastic bottles in your medicine cabinet for emergency cuts and scrapes. But, have you thought about using it to treat your gum disease or whiten your teeth?

Articles about hydrogen peroxide’ benefits may confuse you, so here is a simple discussion of the proven benefits of hydrogen peroxide and how you can apply it to yourself.

Hydrogen Peroxide Treats Gum Infections

Dentists are using hydrogen peroxide to treat swelling gums and remove plaque. The oxygen released by this chemical compound eliminates anaerobic bacteria causing mild to serious gum diseases.

Hydrogen peroxide also destroys the cell walls of the bacteria hidden in the hard to reach areas of your teeth. Some dentists use hydrogen peroxide gels to kills most of the bacteria hidden in those areas.

It improves oral health

Some people use hydrogen peroxide in 3% solution to do this. They simply apply it on their teeth using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Others rinse their mouth with a solution made of half of 3% solution mixed in half glass of water.

It effectively whitens teeth

Hydrogen peroxide is commonly used in the dental industry as a tooth whitening agent. This is the reason why this solution can be found in almost all whitening products. For example, toothpaste and teeth whitening strips are among the better-known dental products that have to rely on hydrogen peroxide.

The amount of solution on dental products depends on its type and how the product should be used. The higher the hydrogen peroxide content, the faster it is to whiten your teeth.

Most of the whitening toothpastes available in the market today contain the recommended amount of hydrogen peroxide which should not exceed the level of concentrations of tooth bleaching product used by dentists.

According to American Dental Association, the professional tooth whitening products only contain up to 40 percent of hydrogen peroxide.

Is Hydrogen Peroxide Safe For Your Teeth?

Hydrogen peroxide is safe to use, as long as you use it as directed. Be careful not to ingest a higher amount than recommended.

To be safe, don’t gargle it directly. Pour it on a glass, mix it with water and swish it inside your mouth according to product directions. As a chemical compound, it is irritating and it has corroding properties-which could burn or injure your skin or tissues.

Always check with your dentist before you use any product, especially when you are suffering from dental infections.


In a nutshell, hydrogen peroxide is an effective teeth whitening chemical that prevent plaque buildup, removes it from the teeth. It cleans and whitens the teeth as well. Its antimicrobial properties treat mild to serious gum conditions such as bleeding gums, and gingivitis. As it kills the bacteria from your mouth, it eliminates bad breath as well.

So, is it safe as a teeth-whitening agent? The answer is a resounding, “Yes!” Look for toothpaste with higher hydrogen peroxide concentrations for an effective whitening and cleaning effect. And, next time you’re tempted to swish hydrogen peroxide inside your mouth, read the label, mix it with water and enjoy the benefits of having cleaner and whiter teeth!

Author: Peter Mayhew

Peter is a dental hygienist in the city of Chicago, IL. In his free time he likes to write blogs and product reviews on anything dental health related.