Whitening & Gum Recession

Hi Ellie,Thanks for getting back to me. I will get on your system, but I just have a quick question regarding your comment about whitening products.I am not intending (and have never done) bleaching on my teeth, but do you think that just by using toothpaste or a mouthwash that contains whitening in it, that it can be causing gum recession? It’s hard to find toothpaste these days without whitening, but I will try. Does the little amount of whitening in the toothpaste actually cause gum recession to otherwise healthy gums????

Thanks so much again!


Hi L,The problem with peroxide and baking soda ( both products used for “whitening”) is that even a tiny amount has the ability to “dissolve” a natural protective layer, that normally defends healthy teeth.This layer (called the pellicle) is not talked about often – except maybe by pediatric dentists who understand its importance for protecting new adult teeth as they come into the mouth.
Pediatric dentist know that a new adult molar erupts without this layer and it takes about a year for it to grow from proteins in saliva that mesh with healthy bacteria to form a healthy “biofilm”.
This pellicle/ healthy biofilm can defend teeth from damage of all kinds – as we eat, drink or eat hot and cold items , get subject to infections, and from other some natural toxins that otherwise can damage teeth.

Many things damage this layer besides peroxide – the list is long and includes long periods of dryness, acidity, certain leafy plants( spinach and kale) and even teas – since they contain a substance that is “toxic” to this layer.

These reasons create a list that some dentists call “risk factors” for tooth damage.Without this protective layer on your teeth and gums, they are left “naked” – or “raw”.
You can think of this in this way: Imagine if you scrubbed or stripped your face of all its natural moisturizers. Would your face be healthy or red and raw? You know it would burn easily, get infected, flake and crack etc. Healthy skin is not scrubbed clean – it has a natural protective layer over it – a mix of healthy bacteria, oils and proteins that lie in defense on the surface.Once you “dissolve” this pellicle layer off your teeth – it will need to re-grow again.
You may be lucky and have the natural “ingredients” to reform it again – I don’t know. Most men are able to do this – most women cannot.

People with vegan diets or poor digestive system have a very tough time to regrow this layer – and this is why they can experience sensitive teeth, cavities and serious gum recession.

I have a chapter on whitening in my book Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye – which explains the other dangers of whitening, and asks why most of these dangers have been ignored by this money-making industry!

Best wishes,

Categories: Q&A with Dr. Ellie, Recession, Whitening

Tags: ,

  • This is very interesting, and maybe is more nuance to it. What if people mix baking soda and hydrogen peroxide so as to neutralize the acidity? Would the pellicle be as damaged as usual? What if this solution is only applied locally to plaque and tartar? And what if it’s never used as a rinse and only in few drops?

    • I don’t know – this was just an observation of mine over 45 years. I’m not in a position to do official research – something too difficult for a practicing dentist. Years ago I noticed acidity was the biggest problem to teeth (and finally this is accepted in dentistry) but I also noticed baking soda and peroxide cause problems. So far there is no sign of research on this by anyone. FYI the ADA have a cozy relationship with Arm and Hammer – so don’t hold your breath for a negative answer any time soon 🙂

  • >