Can You Use Expired Whitening Gel?

Can you use expired teeth whitening products? Perhaps not - their active ingredient, hydrogen peroxide, loses its efficacy after a while.

Can You Use Expired Whitening Gel?

For those who aspire to get those pearly whites, there’s a ton of options out there. For better or worse. On the one hand, you’ve got those natural whitening treatments that may be cheap and effective. However, they can be harmful if used too much. On the other, you have safe yet expensive professional whitening procedures, which might be more effective but cost quite a lot. Commercial whitening products—such as teeth whitening gel and gel strips—seem to stand the middle ground. They don’t carry the same abrasive power as your home-made pastes, and they’re cheaper than in-office whitening. But what happens if it expires? Can you use expired teeth whitening gel?

Of course, to answer whether you can use expired whitening gel, we first need to know how it works. Let’s take a close look.

Why do your teeth get discolored in the first place?

It’s crucial to understand what causes teeth discoloration to know how teeth whitening products work. Not all cases of stained teeth are the same, however. At times, the off-color might stem from a specific condition. You can have fluorosis, for instance, after taking in too much fluoride. Or your enamel might just be thinning. Your dentin, after all, turns yellow over time. The less enamel, the more visible it becomes.

When it comes to these cases, there aren’t many teeth whitening products can do for them. They could even worsen the condition. Because all whitening products are corrosive to an extent, they wear out your enamel faster. And this might not bode well for age-related discoloration.

If your discoloration isn’t caused by either problem, however, teeth whitening products should be fine to use. Typically, discoloration is caused by a build-up of particles—tobacco and tannins are prime suspects—in the enamel pores. It’s not apparent at first, over time, the discoloration becomes more apparent.

What teeth whitening products aim to do, then, is get into these pores to break down that build-up. These products use bleaching compounds to do the job. (They’re also why your teeth feel sensitive right after a session.) Two types are the most common: carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide. Carbamide peroxide also breaks down into hydrogen peroxide and urea, so it seems like hydrogen peroxide is the real MVP in this situation. 

So, can you use expired whitening gel?

That being said, what happens if you use expired whitening gel? Well, nothing. And that’s a good and bad thing. And it’s a good thing, in a sense, because you technically won’t feel any ill effects when you place them on. And your teeth won’t be in any imminent danger, either. 

But that’s also where the problem arises. Once a tooth whitening product goes past its expiry date, it’s basically useless. Which means you might have spent around $10-$55 on nothing. It’s crucial, then, to be able to tell when a whitening product has gone south. 

You often tell by looking at the product packaging. Some brands, however, often buy these whitening products in bulk, making it more likely for customers to get expired products. In that case, check if the product has turned foggy white before sealing the purchase.

That said, can you use expired whitening gel? Quick answer: yes. But it won’t exactly do anything.