Arm and Hammer Whitening Booster – how does it work?

Anonymous says…What’s the chemistry behind the Arm and Hammer Whitening Booster? What’s the chemistry behind the Arm and Hammer Whitening Booster? It’s a whitening gel that you layer on top of your normal toothpaste on your toothbrush. It’s very specific on the box (and the instructions on the bottle) that the whitening booster should only be used with fluoride toothpaste. Is there something in the gel that reacts to fluoride to whiten teeth? It’s inexpensive, so I’m a bit suspicious.

The Beauty Brains respond:

The chemistry of this product is pretty basic – it consists of gelled hydrogen peroxide which is a proven tooth whitener. As the peroxide breaks down it release oxygen which bleaches the tooth enamel. As far as I can tell there’s nothing in that reaction that requires fluoride so I’m not sure why they so emphatic about that. (Maybe it’s just to make sure that you don’t brush with this gel alone.)

The product also make a couple of other noteworthy claims:

3x more whitening ingredient than the leading whitening strip

This is the most interesting claim to me. Adding a peroxide gel to your brushing routine puts peroxide in contact with your teeth for only about 2 minutes every time you brush versus strips which hold the peroxide against your teeth for 30 minutes or so. That begs the question, which works better – a higher level of peroxide for a shorter period of time or a lower level for a longer period of time? I don’t know the answer but my guess is that if this method worked better they would have done the testing to make that claim rather than just claiming that it contains more active. More is not necessarily better.

The easier, faster way to whiten

It’s certainly quicker and more convenient because it only requires a small addition to your normal brushing routine. (I find it a pain to use those strips). Of course that doesn’t mean it works better or even that it works equally well.

Peroxide formula with patented liquid calcium

If this formula is patented it could be because the product offers some unique competitive advantage. Or, they could just be referring to this patent which discloses a special form of dicalcium phosphate that is more compatible with water soluble fluoride salts (apparently as toothpastes age, the monosodium fluoride reacts with dicalcum phosphate and becomes less water souble. This special type of DCP solves that problem but I don’t see what that has to do with how this Whitening Booster works.

By the way, the cost doesn’t surprise me (about $6 for a 2.5 ounces) because none of these ingredients are particularly expensive.

Arm & Hammer Whitening Booster ingredients

Water , Glycerin , Poloxamer 407 , PEG 32 , Hydrogen Peroxide , Phosphoric Acid , Dicalcium Phosphate

A final note: This question didn’t really come from “Anonymous” but I lost the name of whoever submitted it through Facebook. If you read this, whoever you are, please leave a comment with your name so we can recognize you for submitting an interesting question!