You're probably familiar with hydrogen peroxide and some of its many uses. Maybe you have nostalgic childhood memories of mom pulling out the brown plastic bottle to disinfect scrapes, cuts, or burns. But did you know that hydrogen peroxide is also used to practise good oral hygiene? As this common ingredient in over-the-counter (OTC) care products can be dangerous when mixed in do-it-yourself (DIY) remedies, knowing how to safely use it to improve your smile is key.
Hydrogen Peroxide and Oral Care Benefits
Gum problems are caused by the build-up of germs around the gumline that turns into a soft, sticky, colourless film called plaque. The South African Dental Association (SADA) reports that severe periodontal (gum) disease, which may result in tooth loss, is found in 5-20% of middle-aged adults.
Dental professionals have been using hydrogen peroxide since the early 1900s to prevent and treat periodontitis, as it can help eliminate harmful germs and break up plaque. Along with treating gum problems, killing germs also effectively treats bad breath (halitosis). Hydrogen peroxide is still used as an ingredient in OTC products and in professional treatments today. You may have seen instructions on using hydrogen peroxide to make teeth whitening treatments at home, but any use of this chemical should be done with caution and under the care of a dental professional.
Hydrogen peroxide's more well-known use in oral care is for tooth whitening. The amount of hydrogen peroxide found in a whitening treatment depends on its type and intended use. For example, some whitening toothpaste and other at-home whitening products contain small percentages of hydrogen peroxide.
Looking for a more immediate and effective whitening solution? Consider a professional whitening at your dental professional’s office. They can safely apply a higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide than what is in OTC products.
When used correctly, OTC oral care products with small amounts of hydrogen peroxide are safe and effective. Higher percentages of hydrogen peroxide in treatments are safe when applied by a dental professional.
Check with your dental professional before making your own concoctions. Although hydrogen peroxide is affordable and easily accessible (you might already have a bottle at home), maintaining a safe concentration of hydrogen peroxide when mixing at home can be difficult. Also, the mix could overflow if you use a mouthguard that isn't custom-made to fit your mouth, which could irritate your gums. If you have recessed gums, it could even touch an exposed tooth root, causing more sensitivity.
While swallowing a small amount of hydrogen peroxide shouldn't have severe repercussions, you should be careful to avoid ingestion. According to the United States National Capital Poison Center, swallowing some hydrogen peroxide could cause vomiting and stomach aches. Larger amounts could cause stomach bleeding, breathing problems, and even be life-threatening. A dental professional will advise you on what products you can use and how to safely use them for your specific needs.
Whether you're looking for healthier gums or a whiter, more confident smile, hydrogen peroxide is an ingredient that can help you reach your oral health goals. You may already be using hydrogen peroxide in some OTC products and receiving treatment with it at your dental professional's office.
When it comes to DIY mixtures at home, speak with your dental professional about what's safe for your oral health. They'll be able to ensure you're doing what's best to maintain a healthy smile.
Not all Colgate products contain hydrogen peroxide. Optic White Expert is the only product in our toothpaste range that contains hydrogen peroxide.