If you are ashamed of the color of your teeth and are looking for ways to brighten them up, you have probably heard of hydrogen peroxide treatment – and if you are in a hurry for results, you might be wondering how long it takes for these treatments to work.

So to help you understand the various hydrogen peroxide teeth whitening treatments that are available and the duration you can expect for each type of treatment, in this post, we answer the question, how long does it take for hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth?

If you want a preview of some of the things we’re going to be talking about, you can also check out this video before reading on.

What is hydrogen peroxide?

Before we look at how long it takes for hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth, we need to take a step back and ask a more basic question about what hydrogen peroxide is to help us understand how it works and how to use it.

So what is hydrogen peroxide?

Hydrogen peroxide – or H2O2 – is a chemical that has a number of uses.

For example, hydrogen peroxide can be used as a sanitizing agent. It is used to clean surfaces, and it’s also used to sterilize medical equipment.

As a type of bleach, hydrogen peroxide is used in cleaning – it can be used to remove tough stains from bathroom appliances, for example – and it is also used by hairdressers to bleach hair.

And of course, one of the common uses of hydrogen peroxide is as a teeth whitener.

How does hydrogen peroxide whiten teeth?

It’s important to understand that there are two types of tooth discoloration – and there are two main ways of whitening teeth.

The first type of discoloration is what’s known as “intrinsic” discoloration. This is the kind of stain that is due to the intrinsic color of the tooth, and it may be due to a range of causes, including genetics, tooth trauma, a reaction to medication or others.

The second type of discoloration is known as “extrinsic”, and this is due to external factors. In other words, here, we’re talking about stains caused by things like coffee, red wine and tobacco.

To remove the second type of stain, you can turn to mechanical removal, which means using abrasive stain removers like certain types of whitening toothpaste. These toothpastes contain tiny abrasive particles that essentially scratch and scrape the stains from your teeth.

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However, for the first type, intrinsic discoloration, you need to change the color of the tooth itself, which is where the bleaching properties of hydrogen peroxide come in – in effect, hydrogen peroxide is used to bleach your teeth to obtain a whiter, brighter color.

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

So now we know what hydrogen peroxide is and how it whitens your teeth, now we can think about the different methods for using it and how long they take.

  • Professional whitening

The most effective – but most expensive – method for using hydrogen peroxide to whiten your teeth is to book a professional whitening treatment with your dentist.

Dentists receive special training to allow them to carry out these treatments, and as a result, they can use whitening agents with concentrations of hydrogen peroxide that reach as high as around 38%, far higher than any over-the-counter treatments.

As a result, you will be able to achieve a noticeable difference after just one visit to the dentist, and the whitening procedure usually takes only around 90 minutes, which also makes it the fastest.

  • Whitening strips

If you don’t want to pay for a whitening treatment with your dentist, several over-the-counter options are also available, and one of the simplest and most popular is whitening strips.

These are special strips infused with hydrogen peroxide at a concentration of around 10%.

To use them, you cut them out and place them on your teeth and then leave them there for about ten minutes to act.

After this, you remove the strips and wash your mouth – and then repeat the treatment twice a day.

Compared to a professional cleaning carried out by your dentist, this is a far cheaper option.

Unfortunately, it also takes a lot longer – you’ll need to continue the treatment for about one month to achieve similar results.

  • Whitening trays

Similar in concept to whitening strips are whitening trays, another effective yet affordable over-the-counter whitening treatment that many people opt for.

Instead of strips, trays consist of a special clear mold containing around 10% hydrogen peroxide that is placed over the teeth and left there as you go about your day.

Since the tray is clear, it is hardly noticeable in your mouth, and with some trays, you can even continue to eat and drink normally while you wear it – so you can essentially put it in and forget about it while it does its work.

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Alternatively, to make sure nobody sees you are undergoing a tooth whitening treatment, you can put it in at night and wear it while you sleep.

Trays are disposable, and a pack comes with enough trays for you to wear one a day for the duration of the treatment.

Treatment length is also comparable with whitening strips, and you can expect to be using the trays for around two weeks to a month.

  • Hydrogen peroxide toothpaste

We mentioned abrasive whitening toothpastes above, but other non-abrasive whitening toothpastes are also available that use hydrogen peroxide to do the job instead.

Toothpaste whitening treatments are simple. You just use the toothpaste instead of your regular toothpaste for the duration of the treatment, after which, you should see a difference in the whiteness of your teeth.

When using such a treatment, it’s important to read the instructions for the product you buy and then to follow those instructions carefully.

However, generally speaking, whitening teeth with a hydrogen peroxide toothpaste usually also takes about a month.

  • Home remedies

As well as over-the-counter treatments designed for teeth whitening, you can also use hydrogen peroxide as a kind of home remedy.

Hydrogen peroxide is sold in bottles as a highly diluted solution containing around 3-6% hydrogen peroxide, and this can either be combined with baking soda to make a paste that you gently brush your teeth or mixed 1:1 with water to make a mouthwash.

With these options, you can repeat the treatment once a day – and after a month, you should have achieved the desired results.

Is hydrogen peroxide safe to clean teeth?

So we’ve established that hydrogen peroxide can be an effective way to whiten teeth, but is it safe?

The problem with hydrogen peroxide is that as well as whitening your teeth, it can also remove the enamel.

Enamel is a hard protective outer layer on your teeth that protects the softer, more sensitive parts inside the tooth.

The problem is, if enamel is removed from teeth, it won’t grow back, so it’s important to avoid damaging the enamel layer in any way.

This is why only dentists can apply treatments with concentrations of up to 38% hydrogen peroxide – because in the hands of an untrained home user, this would be extremely dangerous.

However, if you use strips or trays, at a concentration of only 10%, if you follow the instructions carefully, there should be no problem.

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Similarly, with hydrogen peroxide toothpaste, if you follow the instructions, you shouldn’t have any issues.

With hydrogen peroxide home remedies, with such low concentrations, you should also have no issues – but you shouldn’t brush or swill for too long, and you should wash your mouth thoroughly after.

Is there anything you can do to speed up the process?

Generally speaking, there are three factors that can increase the danger of using hydrogen peroxide to whiten teeth, namely the amount of time it is in contact with your teeth, the concentration of hydrogen peroxide and the frequency of treatments.

If you increase any of these, it can increase the risk of damage to your teeth – something that’s backed up by scientific studies.

Furthermore, another study showed that increasing the concentration doesn’t have a marked effect on the effectiveness of the treatment.

As a result, the best advice is to stick to the recommended timings and concentrations for the treatment you are undergoing, to have patience and not to try to speed up the process.

Otherwise, if you try to whiten your teeth too quickly, you could end up permanently damaging your teeth – and you may find yourself having to pay out a whole lot more money just to correct the damage you’ve done.

Whitening usually takes up to a month

If you want instant, visible results, the best option is to book a professional whitening treatment with your dentist. That way, after just a 90-minute session, you can walk away with a dazzling white smile after just one visit.

However, with other methods you can expect it to take a bit longer – in general, most whitening methods take up to 30 days to produce the same kind of results you can expect after a single professional treatment in the dentist’s chair.

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