From ground pumice stone to urine to acid, teeth whitening methods have been around for centuries. But the latest craze of teeth whitening strips using hydrogen peroxide as a bleaching agent has been around since the late 1980’s. And Americans have been spending billions of dollars on these products.
A recent study from Stockton University has looked into the effects of hydrogen peroxide on teeth and what they’ve discovered may not put a stop to teeth whitening, but it could cause some people to hold off.
A tooth has three layers: the outer enamel, the underlying dentin, and connective tissue that binds the roots to the gum. In the study, the researchers found that the hydrogen peroxide in teeth whitening strips damages the tissue deep in the tooth – even deeper than the enamel – and makes it weaker. In particular, hydrogen peroxide affects the dentin, the layer that makes up most of the tooth and stops hot or cold food from stimulating the nerves and causing sensitivity and pain.
In additional trials, the researchers treated pure collagen with hydrogen peroxide. Analyzing it under a microscope, they found that treating collagen with similar concentrations of hydrogen peroxide to those found in whitening strips is enough to make the original collagen protein disappear. They believe that this occurred due to the formation of many smaller fragments.
Having a beautiful smile is important. And that begins with good looking, white teeth. It remains unclear whether or not collagen and other proteins in the teeth can be regenerated. That was not part of the study. So, the take-away is to not over-use or abuse whitening strips.