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Hydrogen Peroxide Dangers In Teeth Whitening

Hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) is a chemical compound that contains both molecules of oxygen and hydrogen. The pH of hydrogen peroxide is lower than 7, which means it is highly acidic. The bleaching capabilities of hydrogen peroxide are very powerful and make it quite effective for uses ranging from teeth whitening to bleaching toilet stains. When used improperly, hydrogen peroxide poses a serious health risk and in extreme cases, can lead to death.

Although considered a dangerous chemical, hydrogen peroxide in low concentrations, such as 3%, are commonly available and able to be purchased legally, although they do carry a warning against oral ingestion.

Hydrogen peroxide oxidizes very aggressively with anything that it comes in contact with and is lethal and extremely corrosive in higher concentrations.

Pure or Diluted Form Risks

     At temperatures of 70 degrees Celsius, a concentration of over 70% can explode.

     At a concentration of 50% is corrosive. It may cause damage to the skin and mucous membranes, and can cause severe eye damage.  Inhalation can cause lung inflammation. If swallowed, internal bleeding may occur.

     A 3% concentration ingested in a large amount would cause stomach cramping, vomiting, diarrhea, and irritation or blistering of the mouth or throat.

     Exposure to the vapors from hydrogen peroxide is potentially hazardous. The vapor itself is an irritant and mainly affects the respiratory system and the eyes. Exposure over a long period of time to the vapors may cause lung damage that is permanent.

     Hydrogen peroxide may cause certain skin disorders and diseases such as Vitiligo disease, as studies done recently shows that the blood and skin of sufferers contains higher H2O2 levels than normal.

In looking out for the health and safety of citizens, the European Union recently banned the sale of home teeth whitening kits and products that contain hydrogen peroxide at a concentration of over 0.1%. This decision was based partly on the fact that there seems to be no available data or studies that have been completed on safety with the long term use of hydrogen peroxide. Once the ruling went into effect, the majority of products were removed from the market, putting the safety of consumers first.

At a concentration of no higher than 0.1%, hydrogen peroxide is no longer effective for whitening. The newest and most effective alternative to the use of hydrogen peroxide in home teeth whitening products is sodium bicarbonate, or sodium perborate. It is much safer than hydrogen peroxide and also lays claim to being quicker with results that are achieved. 

Sodium bicarbonate has a taste that is slightly salty and acidic, Sodium Perborate is used by many dentists and teeth whitening technicians it is available at this has a mild minty taste and is completely safe and effective to use.

Author - Sharron Hunt