Teeth whiteners: hydrogen peroxide vs peroxide-free

Thinking about trying at-home teeth whitening, but not sure whether to choose a hydrogen peroxide or peroxide-free formula? Our straightforward guide to the two main types of teeth whiteners will help you choose. From results you can expect to whitening time, sensitivity and cost, here’s everything you need to know before you add to cart.

Hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening

The gold standard whitening agent, hydrogen peroxide is the active ingredient found within in-chair dentist teeth whitening formulas. And it’s there for one good reason – it works! Formulated into whitening gels in varying concentrations, it’s hands down your best bet for removing deep discolouration caused by a taste for things like coffee, red wine, smoking or blueberries. Yes, blueberries!

A commonly used oxidising agent, hydrogen peroxide causes a chemical reaction that whitens teeth by breaking down coloured compounds trapped in the porous enamel. It is able to penetrate to remove deeper stains that cannot be shifted by surface cleaning alone – e.g. through daily brushing or at your 6-monthly scale and polish.

Each country has different regulations regarding the percentage of hydrogen peroxide permitted in over-the-counter whitening products. For example, in Australia only dentists can distribute products containing more than 6% hydrogen peroxide (or 18% carbamide peroxide – a bleaching agent that breaks down into hydrogen peroxide)1.

At the dentist, you may be treated with a concentration as high as 35% to achieve fast results. However, the relative high price of in-chair whitening compared to at-home options can be a deterrent.

When whitening with take-home trays and bleach from your dentist or a teeth whitening kit from a trusted brand like Advanced, the number of uses required will depend on the concentration of hydrogen peroxide used. The higher the concentration, the faster you’ll achieve the optimal whitening result for your teeth.

However, the need for speed must weighed up against the potential for sensitivity – a not-uncommon, usually temporary side effect of peroxide-based teeth whitening. Particularly at very high concentrations.

Peroxide-free teeth whitening

Some of the most common non-peroxide ingredients used in whitening toothpastes, strips and gels include sodium bicarbonate (bicarb soda) and natural alternatives such as charcoal. Because they are abrasive, these ingredients can help to remove surface stains and brighten teeth. However, you’ll be disappointed if you’re expecting the same results as achieved with a hydrogen peroxide formula.

Free from oxidising substances, peroxide-free products are unable to lift deeper stains. Results are often short lived and repetitive use can lead to damage to the tooth enamel over time. Furthermore, in products such as toothpastes, the whitening agents are included in low concentrations that may deliver much subtler results than you’re hoping for. 

Dying to DIY? Take online advice around homemade remedies involving things like lemon juice and salt with, well, a grain of salt. These ingredients may be too abrasive or acidic and lead to tooth damage, with limited whitening effect.

At-home teeth whitening kits – how to achieve results without tooth sensitivity

You’ve probably noticed that much of the marketing around peroxide-free whitening centres around sensitivity. Or lack thereof. And while it can be an issue for some, the simple truth is that products that don’t contain hydrogen peroxide (or agents that release it) are just not as successful at lifting deeper stains that have permeated your enamel.

If you’re going to invest in at-home teeth whitening, surely you want to use a product that delivers the biggest bang for your buck? And when it comes to the bleaching agent used, that’s undoubtedly hydrogen peroxide!

We don’t believe in the ethos of no pain, no gain, however, and we’ve made it our mission to deliver fast results without any sensitivity. We’ve spent a decade perfecting our product to achieve this and can confirm our Australian Dental Association compliant gel uses the strongest, highest-quality dental-grade whitening ingredients on the Australian market. Our Kits use the highest safe concentration of hydrogen peroxide available outside of the dentist’s office to ensure you get whiter, brighter teeth in under a week. Because, while your teeth are precious, so is your time!

1. Dentalboard.gov.au
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