White strips do work, but they’re not the most effective way to whiten teeth. Here’s how they work, how to use them safely, and what you should know before you try them.
What are white strips?
Teeth whitening strips are small pieces of a flexible polyethylene, a type of plastic. Each white strip is 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. One strip goes on the top, and one on the bottom. The peroxide gel then seeps into the teeth to lighten them.
Do they work?
Yes, white strips do work, but only to a degree. The concentration of whitening ingredients in them is quite low. While they will help remove surface stains and make your teeth somewhat whiter over time, they are not as effective as professional teeth whitening at your dentist’s office, which has much higher concentrations of bleaching ingredients.
Problems with White Strips
In addition to their not being very effective, white strips can also pose some problems.
White strips can cause a chemical reaction with your gums, resulting to damage to the tissues. Be sure not to let the white strips touch your gums when you apply them.
White strips have only a minimal effect on the in-between spaces or the curved bottoms of teeth, so you often end up with the centre of the tooth being whiter than the edges.
Without a dentist to monitor whitening treatment, it’s very possible to overdo it and damage your teeth. Teeth aren’t like hair and nails; once they’re damaged, they’re damaged for good.
Making mistakes with whitening strips could cause you to experience shooting pains in your teeth, or make you sensitive to certain foods. Over-whitening can also cause enamel to soften, and the teeth to turn an odd greyish colour.