New Study Explores Potential Harms of Flossing

This ingredient in whitening strips could damage your teeth, study says 

Have you used whitening strips to brighten your smile? Beware, because they could be harmful, according to a new report. 

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Researchers from Stockton University recently conducted a study to explore the effects of hydrogen peroxide, the active ingredient in over-the-counter whitening strips.

To do so, they administered three trials that assessed how hydrogen peroxide affects the three layers of a tooth. The layers include the outer enamel; the dentin, which is full of proteins called collagen; and the pulp, a connective tissue that binds the gum.

“We sought to further characterize what the hydrogen peroxide was doing to collagen,” coauthor Kelly Keenan said in a statement. “We used entire teeth for the studies and focused on the impact hydrogen peroxide has on the proteins.”

After analyzing the results, they found hydrogen peroxide caused the collagen in dentin to break down into smaller proteins, which can ultimately ruin the tooth.

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“Our results show that treatment with hydrogen peroxide concentrations similar to those found in whitening strips is enough to make the original collagen protein disappear, which is presumably due to the formation of many smaller fragments,” Keenan said.

The team said they were unsure how harmful hydrogen peroxide can be, because they are in the early stages of research. They hope to continue their investigations to determine how the negative effects of the ingredient could affect patients and whether the damage is permanent. 

Essentially, all whitening products in the United States contain hydrogen peroxide and/or carbamide peroxide, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). 

The organization said concentration of 10 percent of hydrogen peroxide or higher can be potentially corrosive to mucous membranes or skin. Too much hydrogen peroxide can also cause a burning sensation and tissue damage. Most whitening products contain concentrations of 3.5 percent of hydrogen peroxide. 

While ADA organization has previously acknowledged scientists who’ve raised safety concerns about the chemical, the organization said more research is needed. 

» RELATED: If you've been flossing regularly, the feds say you can stop

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