You might be pretty familiar with hydrogen peroxide. In fact, you might even have a brown plastic bottle of it tucked away in your medicine cabinet to clean cuts and scrapes. But did you know that it has several uses in dentistry? Hydrogen peroxide uses range from whitening your teeth to helping to treat gum disease.
Hydrogen Peroxide Gums Treatment
Hydrogen peroxide can give you a healthier smile. As RDH notes, dentists have used hydrogen peroxide since 1913 to treat gum disease and reduce plaque on the teeth.
Hydrogen peroxide helps kill the bacteria responsible for gum disease in two ways. First, it releases oxygen. If you've ever noticed that peroxide bubbles, that's because it's releasing oxygen gas. Oxygen can help eliminate pathogens in the most aggressive forms of gum disease. The presence of oxygen makes it difficult (if not impossible) for anaerobic bacteria to survive.
The other way that hydrogen peroxide gums treatment may relieve gum diseases and improve gum health is by breaking through the slime barrier, which protects a biofilm, to destroy bacteria's cell walls. RDH points out that often the most effective way to reach bacteria located deep in periodontal pockets is to apply peroxide in gel form with a tray. Leaving the gel in place for at least 10 minutes helps the peroxide destroy nearly all of the bacteria cells present.
Hydrogen Peroxide for Oral Hygiene
You don't have to have an advanced form of periodontal or gum disease to benefit from hydrogen peroxide. A 3 percent solution of hydrogen peroxide is the kind that's available in most pharmacies, the National Capital Poison Center notes. It can help remove plaque from the surface of your teeth and reverse the earliest signs of gum disease, according to the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH). The ISDH recommends using a soft-bristled toothbrush to apply the 3 percent solution, then flossing your teeth after rinsing. Another option is to rinse your mouth with a solution made of half water and half 3 percent hydrogen peroxide.
Hydrogen Peroxide for Tooth Whitening
One of the more well-known uses of hydrogen peroxide in dentistry is tooth whitening. The amount of hydrogen peroxide found in a whitening product depends on its type and how it's meant to be used. For example, some whitening toothpastes, such as Colgate Optic White Express White, contain hydrogen peroxide, a professionally recommended whitening ingredient.
Although some whitening toothpastes contain more hydrogen peroxide than others, no toothpaste contains as much or concentrations greater than a tooth bleaching product designed for application by your dentist. Professional tooth whitening products contain a concentration of hydrogen peroxide that ranges from 25 to 40 percent, according to the American Dental Association. The higher concentration means the hydrogen peroxide bleaches your teeth more quickly than low-concentration toothpastes or over-the-counter whitening products.
When used as directed, hydrogen peroxide is usually safe. While you will most likely be fine if you swallow a bit of the hydrogen peroxide in your medicine cabinet, you should be careful not to ingest a stronger concentration. Use any product with hydrogen peroxide in it only as directed.
Although hydrogen peroxide is readily available and you might even have a bottle of it at home, it's a good idea to check with your dentist before you start using it in your mouth. Especially in higher concentrations, the solution can be irritating and cause some discomfort if not used correctly. Your dentist can point you to the right product to use, whether you're looking for a whiter smile or healthier gums.