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Do Whitening Strips Work?

You’ve seen them on the shelf in the chemists and possibly thought they’re too good to be true: a simple strip you place over your teeth and hey presto you have whiter teeth in no time at all. Whitening strips are very popular, but do they work and are they the best option for your teeth if you want to make them visibly whiter? Let’s look at the facts and find out.

What do the strips aim to do?

Any kind of whitening strip you use will aim to do one simple thing: help give teeth a visibly whiter appearance. Teeth whitening strips promise to remove the visible signs of yellow from your enamel and leave you with whiter teeth in a short period of time.

What do the strips actually do?

For your teeth to look whiter after application, it’s best to know what is going on when contact is made. Most companies that make the strips have the chemical hydrogen peroxide on them. This chemical acts like a bleaching agent on teeth and when applied from a strip will start to sink in to your teeth. Your teeth are very porous and prone to accepting all sorts in (which is why they can discolour in the first place) and letting the peroxide in helps to lighten enamel. 

What are the main benefits of using a strip?

Correct use of a strip can help someone get whiter looking teeth in a quick period of time (anywhere from 3 days to a fortnight) with the simple application on to the teeth. It’s a good idea if you want your teeth to look brighter for a special occasion or formal event where you know every photo will need you to flash a big smile at everyone opportunity.

What are the main problems of using a strip? 

With the chemical reaction that takes place when the strip is stuck to your tooth, you’re also going to see some of that strip come in to contact with your gums which aren’t as forgiving to the peroxide. A strip can cause some gum bleeding or increase sensitivity around the gums.

The strips can also miss areas because they aren’t necessarily uniform. Imagine you have to put a plastic on your finger after a cut. You would wrap the plaster around the finger, whereas a whitening strip will only be on one part of the tooth and not the whole way round, especially in the corner of a tooth where you normally have the densest yellow marks. Some people find that when they remove the strip that even though a tooth might be whiter, it will accidentally accentuate the yellow marks that didn’t improve much.

When should someone NOT use a strip?

If you have a cavity or gum problems its best to avoid using strips all together and using alternative treatments like laser teeth whitening or bleaching carried out by a professional. It is always best to have someone who knows their way around a tooth helping make it white again rather than you sitting with a strip in your mouth every night and not knowing exactly what’s going.