TikTok Trend Uses 3% Hydrogen Peroxide To Whiten Teeth—Why It's Not Recommended

Proceed with caution.

The TikTok hacks are at it again, this time with questionable teeth whitening methods. A TikToker by the name of @clauds244, who likes to share her own brand of wellness advice on the platform, created a video of herself putting 3% hydrogen peroxide on cotton swabs and then running the swabs across her teeth to whiten them.

She claimed that since 3% hydrogen peroxide is the same ingredient in store-bought whitening strips, her hack was totally fine. "If you're a dentist, don't tell me this is wrong," she said in the video's voiceover.

As the video hit over 15 million views, other users began to follow suit, trying the hack and then showing the results, with one user adding baking soda.

So is it fine to use 3% hydrogen peroxide to whiten your teeth, as she claims? Actually, no.

Normally used as an antiseptic and bleaching agent, 3% hydrogen peroxide is over the legal percentage of 0.1% allowed to be used by non-dental professionals in the UK (where @clauds244 is based).

In the United States, whitening strips can contain up to 15% hydrogen peroxide, and teeth whitening products in general can contain anywhere between 3% to 20% hydrogen peroxide. But because they are considered cosmetic treatments, over-the-counter teeth whitening products aren't regulated by the FDA.

For this reason, they shouldn't be used as often as @clauds244 advocates, who applies the 3% hydrogen peroxide multiple days in a row. Dentists warn that frequent usage can cause some serious and long-lasting damage.

"Prolonged bleaching with these high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide, especially when used multiple days in a row, can lead to highly irritated gums and sensitive teeth," dentist and Waterpik spokesperson Chris Strandburg, DDS, told Health. "Gum irritation can get severe if more bleaching is done when the gums are already irritated. Tooth sensitivity is usually temporary (24 hours or so), but significant bleaching can increase tooth sensitivity permanently with long-term use."

This doesn't mean you can't use hydrogen peroxide on your teeth at all. Just proceed with caution. While 3% hydrogen peroxide is available at most drugstores, be sure to dilute it with equal parts water to prevent burns and damage. Or play it safe by using a toothpaste or teeth whitening product that contains phthalimidoperoxycaproic acid (PAP), which is much gentler on the gums and enamel and is super-effective at whitening in only 24 hours.

As always, do your research before following any health or beauty hack you see on the internet, especially if they haven't been verified by reputable professionals.

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  1. Oral Health Foundation. Tooth whitening and the law.

  2. Bizhang M, Domin J, Danesh G, Zimmer S. Effectiveness of a new non-hydrogen peroxide bleaching agent after single use - a double-blind placebo-controlled short-term studyJ Appl Oral Sci. 2017;25(5):575-584. doi:10.1590/1678-7757-2016-0463

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