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What to know about teeth whitening strips

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Whitening strips are a popular dental product that may help remove stains from and whiten the teeth. While they are not as effective as treatments from a dentist’s office, they can be a more simple and cheap alternative. However, people should take care to check the ingredients of the strips and apply them carefully.

Teeth can be an important part of a person’s self-image. Inevitably, teeth begin to yellow with age, but people can use various techniques to slow the process. Among these techniques are whitening strips, which people can purchase over the counter (OTC) and use to help remove stains and whiten teeth.

People apply whitening strips directly to their teeth. Although the strips contain chemicals, such as carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide, the American Dental Association (ADA) states that they are safe and effective if they bear the ADA Seal of Acceptance. However, people may experience adverse effects when using any whitening products.

In this article, we look at whether whitening strips work, what to look for when buying them, how to use them, their pros and cons, and how to avoid teeth staining.

According to the ADA, teeth whitening products, including strips, can help effectively remove both internal and external stains on teeth. However, they do not work on fake teeth. A 2020 review also states that teeth whitening strips are an effective OTC agent that typically works better than other OTC whitening agents, such as whitening toothpaste.

However, it is important to note that at-home whitening strips contain lower concentrations of whitening ingredients than dentist-supplied products. People with heavily stained teeth or high expectations may not get the results they want using OTC whitening strips.

Additionally, the effectiveness of the strips may rely on the strength of the chemicals and how long people keep them on the teeth. Evidence suggests, though, that using teeth whitening products that contain hydrogen peroxide can endanger tooth health. Therefore, it may be advisable to discuss the use of these products with a dentist.

What to look for

When shopping for whitening strips, people may wish to consider the following:

  • Ingredients: People should opt for products that contain proven effective ingredients, including carbamide and hydrogen peroxide.

  • Trusted Brands: People should only purchase from well known brands and avoid cheap knock-offs sold online.

  • Dentist approval: It is advisable to look for products with approval from dental organizations, such as those with the ADA Seal of Acceptance.

  • Customer reviews: People can also check online reviews to see what others have to say about a product. A comparison of before and after photos can provide an accurate view of what to expect from a particular brand of whitening strip. Additionally, a person can ask their dentist for specific advice.

How to use

People should carefully read any information on the product’s packaging and instructions before using whitening strips.

However, a person typically applies the strips directly to their teeth. Manufacturers may recommend avoiding brushing the teeth shortly before applying the strips. A person will then leave the strips on their teeth for the recommended length of time. This duration may vary among products, but it is common to leave the strips on for about 30 minutes.

Manufacturers may also recommend the ideal frequency of use for their whitening strips. A standard recommendation is to apply whitening strips twice daily for 2 weeks.

However, these instructions may vary depending on the product. Therefore, a person should follow the guidelines on the packaging and never wear the strips for longer than the manufacturer suggests.

Pros and cons

The pros of using whitening strips may include:

  • ease of use

  • no need to visit the dentist

  • affordable

While there are advantages to using whitening strips, there are also some downsides. These include:

  • You never know what is actually in it. Mass produced products sold online have the potential to contain different levels of chemicals and even ones not specified on the package.

  • The strips can cause side effects, such as tooth sensitivity and gum irritation or worse.

  • As whitening strips use bleaching agents to achieve their effects, the overuse of these products can damage the teeth.

  • Some people might not get the results they want with at-home whitening strips, which may not have dramatic effects. A person may have to do several sessions to get noticeable results.

  • It can be difficult to keep the strips in place, so using them might be fiddly.

  • Whitening sessions can take roughly 30 minutes, so using them requires time and patience.

People are more likely to experience side effects if they do not follow the manufacturer’s instructions for a product or purchasing cheap products online. If a person has gum disease or another dental disease, they should consult a dentist before trying OTC whitening strips.

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