Whitening strips actually do work, but they’re not the most effective way to whiten your teeth. Here’s a rundown of how they work, how to use them safely, and what you should know before trying them.
What are whitening strips?
Teeth whitening strips (sometimes called white strips) are small pieces of a flexible plastic called polyethylene, that are coated with a whitening gel that contains hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.
The strips are applied to the fronts of the teeth, and molded to fit their shape. The peroxide gel then seeps into the teeth to lighten them.
Do they work?
Whitening strips do work to some degree. The concentration of whitening ingredients in them is fairly low, so while they will help remove surface stains and make your teeth somewhat whiter over time, they're not as effective as professional teeth whitening at your dentist’s office, which uses much higher concentrations of bleaching ingredients.
Problems with Whitening Strips
In addition to not being very effective, whitening strips can also pose some problems.
Whitening strips can have a chemical reaction with your gums, resulting to damage to the tissues. If you're going to give whitening strips a try be sure to avoid letting the strips touch your gums when you apply them.
Whitening strips have only a minimal effect on the spaces between your teeth or the curved bottoms of teeth, so you can end up with the centre of the tooth being whiter than the edges.
Without a dentist to monitor the whitening treatment, it’s easy to overdo it and damage your teeth. Teeth aren’t like hair and nails; once teeth are damaged, they’re damaged for good.
Making mistakes with whitening strips could cause shooting pains in your teeth, or even make you sensitive to certain foods. Over-whitening can also cause enamel to soften, and the teeth to turn an odd greyish colour.