Peroxide Free Teeth Whitening – The Verdict

Written & Reviewed by Dr David Chen

Since peroxide is an acid, some people are worried that it may be harmful to the enamel for teeth whitening. In an attempt to address this concern, manufacturers have developed a new product that is sans peroxide.

Yes you read that correctly, this new method of teeth whitening allegedly does not contain any peroxide. The best part is, it is supposed to be just as effective as the products with it.

Brightwhite peroxide free teeth whitening

Is there any veracity to this alleged statement?

Our purpose is to examine whether or not that is true. What is non-peroxide teeth whitening? Does it work and how does it make your teeth whiter? Is it the best way to whiten your teeth?

We will answer all of those and then lay down our verdict.

What are non peroxide teeth whitening products?

Non-peroxide teeth whitening is a form of bleaching your teeth without the use of hydrogen peroxide. The premise behind it is that it is meant to be safer since it does not contain acid in it like peroxide does. After all putting acid on your enamel doesn’t sound very pleasant does it?

Examples of peroxide free whitening products:

iwhite non peroxide teeth whitening

There are a lot more to list but basically anything that is natural and does not contain the word peroxide in the ingredients is eligible to be called peroxide free.

Is it truly peroxide free teeth whitening?

The all natural whitening products like charcoal and coconut oil are indeed truly peroxide free. That is obvious as day because charcoal is made from charcoal and coconut oil is made from coconuts. There are no peroxides within any of those.

Nonetheless that is not what we are going to focus on today. We’re here to talk about two new whitening ingredients, Phtalimidoperoxycaproic acid (PAP) and Sodium percarbonate. They’re found in a lot of new products that market themselves as peroxide free but are more effective or just as effective as traditional hydrogen peroxide whitening.

The both of them are allegedly peroxide free but it is not as simple as they claim.

Phthalimidoperoxycaproic acid (PAP)

This new product’s name is a mouthful so we’re just going to call it PAP for short. According to PubChem in the classification section, it is still technically a peroxide. Despite the fact that the name does not contain it, it is still part of the peroxide family.

The reason why it is still classified as a peroxide is related to how it is made. PAP is actually a synthetic organic peroxy acid which is derived from caprolactam and phthalic anhydride. The key point is that peroxy acid is made by adding sulfuric acid to hydrogen peroxide.

Let me reiterate that one more time. Peroxy acid is made by adding sulfuric acid to hydrogen peroxide.

We’re just not sure if you can truly call PAP peroxide free when one of the base ingredients is hydrogen peroxide. It is certainly a derivative of it, which is why PubChem classifies it as so.

Therefore the question we have for you is, would you consider it a non peroxide product?

Sodium percarbonate

Another novel peroxide free teeth whitening ingredient is sodium percarbonate. Despite it not having any “peroxide” in the name, it still a part of the peroxide family just like PAP. According to PubChem, a synonym for sodium percarbonate is actually “sodium carbonate peroxide”.

That should be a dead give away that it is not truly a non-peroxide tooth whitening agent. Apparently this product is made by adding sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide together.

Once again, it is literally made from hydrogen peroxide so would you still consider this a peroxide free tooth whitening agent?

Do they whiten teeth effectively?

The results for teeth whitening without peroxide such as PAP and sodium percarbonate are mixed. Overall it does appear that they do work and will whiten your teeth. However the claims for them being safer than traditional hydrogen peroxide are actually unclear.

Research results for Phtalimidoperoxycaproic acid (PAP)

A study by the Journal of Applied Oral Science did find that PAP was effective in whitening teeth. It was effective enough that it showed whitening effects immediately after treatment and also 24 hours post treatment.

The efficacy of it being a tooth whitener was verified by another study. In addition to the whitening ability, they also found that it was safer than traditional peroxide whitening. The results showed that PAP did not affect the microhardness of enamel. In other words, it was not harmful to your tooth’s enamel when used.

However in a study by the British Dental Journal, they did find that PAP had the potential to damage enamel. That is in stark contrast to the previous study from above. Nonetheless, the results did show it did effectively whiten teeth.

To summarize, all of the studies found that PAP will whiten your teeth. The safety or rather whether or not it has any effect on your enamel’s integrity is unclear. Since the results are not definitive for the latter, we cannot say for certain whether they are safer or not. Perhaps it is equivalent to peroxide in regards to enamel safety.

Reserach results for sodium percarbonate

Studies have shown that sodium percarbonate are indeed effective in whitening teeth. They tested a 19% sodium percarbonate product which was used at night for 14 days. At the end the teeth were lighter when compared to the control group. The only adverse effect that was noted was teeth sensitivity.

A different study also found that it was effective as a bleaching agent. The only notable adverse effect was sensitivity but none of the test subjects discontinued treatment due to it.

The Verdict – Should you whiten teeth without peroxide?

Overall it appears that these non-peroxide teeth whitening agents are indeed effective in whitening teeth. Since they do what they say they will do, you may go ahead and use them if you’d like.

However you should keep in mind that some of these peroxide free whitening gels are still derived from hydrogen peroxide. In other words they are not “free of peroxide” as you may have initially thought. The decision is yours to make for that.

Aside from there another benefit that these products advertise is that they are safer on your enamel. That may be possibly true but there isn’t definitive evidence of it. The studies so far have been mixed with some showing adverse effects while others showing none. Nonetheless, the worse that it could be would be equivalent to hydrogen peroxide anyway.

We do not believe that the “safety” of these products should be a major concern nor a deterrent for you to use them. Teeth whitening has been shown to be relatively safe. The only potential damages would be from high concentration products but those are typically reserved for in-office treatment under the supervision of a licensed dental professional.

Just in case you wanted to learn more about the other side of teeth whitening, we do have an entire article dedicated to how hydrogen peroxide whitens your teeth. It’s safe to use so don’t be shy.


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