How Long Does It Take for Hydrogen Peroxide to Whiten Teeth?

Medically Reviewed on 3/4/2022
hydroperoxide teeth whitening
How long it takes hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth depends on the teeth condition, the reason for discoloration, and the type of treatment used.

How long it takes hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth depends on three things, including:

  1. Condition of the teeth
  2. Reason for discoloration of the teeth
  3. Type of treatment you want (at-home kits or in-office treatment)

Sessions conducted at a dentist’s office depend on the concentration of hydrogen peroxide.

  • The more the concentration, the fewer the sessions required.
  • However, more concentration is associated with a risk of greater damage.
  • Instead, experts recommend using lower concentrations and shorter treatment times to avoid damage to the teeth.

Professional teeth-whitening treatment typically takes 3-4 weeks to whiten your teeth.

For over-the-counter and in-home teeth-whitening kits to work, it will take at least a month of wearing mouthpieces every night before the whitening effect sets in. The duration of obtaining results depends on how white your teeth are when you initiate the treatment.

How do you use hydrogen peroxide as a teeth whitener?

You can either use homemade mouthwash recipes using household ingredients, try over-the-counter whitening kits, or get teeth whitening done from a dentist.

Homemade mouthwash recipes involve swishing hydrogen peroxide solution around your mouth or applying a paste of hydrogen peroxide mixed with baking soda on your teeth followed by rinsing it off. You must, however, exercise caution because this may damage your dental enamel.

Homemade hydrogen peroxide mouthwash

  1. Mix three percent hydrogen peroxide (one part) and water (two parts).
  2. Shake the ingredient mixture thoroughly and use it as a mouthwash.
  3. Spit it out the moment you feel a burning sensation and take care not to swallow the solution.

Hydrogen peroxide paste

  1. Take one teaspoon of baking soda and two teaspoons of hydrogen peroxide in a dish.
  2. Mix the soda and peroxide with a spoon.
  3. Apply the paste to your teeth in a circular motion with the help of a toothbrush for two minutes.
  4. Swish water around your mouth until the whole paste is rinsed off completely.

Additionally, there are plenty of store-bought options, including:

  • Teeth-whitening kits
  • Teeth-whitening strips
  • Teeth-whitening pens
  • Teeth-whitening mouthwash
  • Teeth-whitening toothpaste

Most of these options contain hydrogen peroxide diluted to about three percent. The amount of hydrogen peroxide in office-based whitening treatments varies, with the maximum concentration being 10%.

If you want quicker results than the above two methods but maintain good oral health, you always have the option of getting tooth whitening treatments from a professional.

Are there any side effects of teeth whitening with hydrogen peroxide?

Although hydrogen peroxide can make your teeth a few shades whiter, you must know the risks before you opt for any of the methods of using it.

Teeth whitening with hydrogen peroxide can produce side effects such as:

Some of these side effects, such as enamel and tooth damage, are usually because of using a higher concentration. Always be careful while handling hydrogen peroxide of any concentration. 

Side effects such as tooth sensitivity can be caused with any concentration. If you are experiencing any of these side effects, discontinue using hydrogen peroxide and contact your dentist.

What causes tooth discoloration?

There are two types of staining that cause tooth discoloration: intrinsic and extrinsic staining.

  1. Intrinsic staining, also known as internal staining, is caused by heredity, age, antibiotics, excessive fluoride levels, and developmental abnormalities and can begin before the tooth has erupted. Some dental restorations may induce tooth discoloration after the tooth has erupted.
  2. Extrinsic staining, also known as external staining, is caused due to environmental factors such as smoking, excessive consumption of tea, coffee, wine, and certain foods, antibiotics, and metals such as iron or copper. Colored substances from various sources are absorbed into dental pellicles or directly onto the tooth surface, resulting in staining.

Which is the best method of whitening teeth?

what is the best method for whitening teeth
Teeth whitening is usually done either by bleaching or using non-bleaching whitening products. Here are ways to whiten teeth and remove stains

Teeth whitening is usually done either by bleaching or using non-bleaching whitening products. 

While there are several pastes available on the market that claim to whiten teeth, their efficacy depends on the active ingredients present. There are also other products such as strips and oral rinses that can help whiten teeth. 

The active ingredient used for whitening teeth is usually hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide—some pastes and teeth-whitening products may contain these ingredients in varying strengths to help whiten teeth. Over-the-counter pastes and other teeth-whitening products may not always work, however, especially if the teeth are severely discolored. 

The other option is to visit a dentist for professional teeth whitening. They use special pastes that they apply to the teeth. When the active ingredient is broken down, oxygen enters the enamel on the teeth, lightening the color.

5 effective ways to whiten teeth

  1. Strips: Teeth whitening strips are made of a thin, flexible plastic that has been imbibed with a low concentration of bleach. The strips come pre-packaged and are readily applied to the teeth, adapting to their contour. Because the peroxide concentration is mild, most whitening strips are deemed safe to use twice a day for 2 weeks.
  2. Toothpaste: Silica, aluminum oxide, calcium carbonate, and baking soda are mild abrasives used in toothpastes that help remove surface stains. Whitening toothpastes, unlike professional whitening solutions, do not contain bleach, but do contain extra polishing or chemical ingredients that can help remove further surface staining.
  3. Oral rinses: The benefit of using whitening rinses is that they contain bleaching agents such as peroxide that whiten teeth in addition to refreshing breath and reducing dental plaque and gum disease. They can be used twice a day before brushing, similar to mouthwash.
  4. Trays: Tray-based teeth whitening systems involve filling a mouth-guard-like tray with a gel whitening solution that has a peroxide bleaching agent. The tray is worn at night for up to 4 weeks.
  5. Bleaching: The quickest approach to teeth whitening is in-office bleaching, during which a whitening product is applied directly to the teeth. Heat, a specific light, or a laser may be used in conjunction with these products. Results can be seen within 30-60 minutes of therapy.

Subscribe to MedicineNet's General Health Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors

Medically Reviewed on 3/4/2022
Image Source: iStock Images

Alkahtani R, Stone S, German M, Waterhouse P. A review on dental whitening. J Dent. 2020 Sep;100:103423.

Sulieman M, Addy M, MacDonald E, Rees JS. The effect of hydrogen peroxide concentration on the outcome of tooth whitening: An in vitro study. J Dent. 2004 May;32(4):295-299.