A new study warns that teeth whitening products can lead to tooth decay. Researchers from the Stockton University (US) have discovered an ingredient in whitening strips called hydrogen peroxide damages dentin tissue, which is located just beneath the tooth’s protective enamel.
Teeth consist of three layers - outer tooth enamel, underlying dentin layer and the connective tissue which binds the roots and gum. Previous research has primarily focused on tooth enamel. However, the new study focuses on dentin because it contains a high amount of a protein called collagen and also because most of the tooth is made up of it.
There is a large amount of collagen all over our body, which is responsible for many functions, as well as gives structure to bones, ligaments, tendons, hair and nails. It is made up of amino-acids like hydroxyproline, arginine, glycine and proline.
For the study, researchers treated collagen with hydrogen peroxide and then used a gel electrophoresis laboratory technique to examine what happens to it. “Our results showed 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,” Kelly Keenan, Associate Professor at the university told a news portal.
Researchers have yet to understand whether this causes permanent damage as they still don't know if it is possible to regenerate proteins in the teeth. In the past, the American Dental Association has whitening products that cause gum inflation and tooth sensitivity. However, these side effects are not perceived to be dangerous. The study's findings were originally presented at the 2019 Experimental Biology meeting held in Orlando, Florida (US).
Previous research has found that brushing your teeth is not enough to prevent cavities. Researchers say toothpaste needs to contain an essential ingredient called fluoride. “It’s really important to debunk this idea that brushing your teeth stops decay. You need to have the fluoride,” Damien Walmsley, a scientific adviser to the British Dental Association and dentistry professor at the University of Birmingham, told a news portal.
Despite there being a ton of evidence on the benefits of fluoride, many researchers challenge the claim. However, experts for it say it is important and urge the public to do their research to maintain oral health.
“Despite a large body of scientific evidence, there are growing numbers of consumers who believe that all toothpastes are the same and that as long as you clean your teeth effectively with a toothbrush or other device which cleans in-between the teeth, you can prevent decay,” Dentist J. Leslie Winston, oral care director for Crest-toothpaste maker Procter & Gamble, told a news portal.