If you’re embarrassed to smile because of yellowing or stained teeth, you’ve probably thought about trying one of the many whitening options available today.
Professional treatment by a dentist is the most effective solution, but it comes at a price, and you may not feel ready to take such a big step.
Among all the other treatments that you can buy privately, teeth whitening strips at least seem to be one of the most convenient ways of brightening your smile, but are they worth trying?
An Introduction To Strip Theory
Teeth whitening strips are made from a thin, flexible layer of plastic, coated in a gel which claims to do the whitening work. The active ingredient in this gel is usually either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, both of which are types of bleach used in professional dental whitening treatments to give excellent results.
To use the strips, you simply press them across the surface of your teeth, molding the plastic into place with as few gaps and bubbles as you can manage, and leave them on for half an hour or so while the gel does its whitening work. With most types of strips, this should be done twice a day for a minimum of two weeks.
Whitening Strip Pluses and Minuses
If used as recommended, whitening strips can leave your teeth a couple of shades lighter fairly quickly, and for a reasonably low cost. They are also much more convenient than a full treatment supplied by your dentist (possibly us).
However, that’s not the whole story — there are three main problems which you should be aware of before deciding whether or not strips are right for you.
1. Uneven Whitening — No matter how careful you are applying the strips to your teeth, it’s almost impossible to get a perfect fit without leaving gaps.
Imagine you’re on a first date, and your companion for the evening gives you a big smile, and you happen to notice that, amidst the pleasant whiteness of their teeth, areas are a strange beige color. Your reaction might just turn from “Nice smile!” to “EEESH!”
Fact is, your teeth aren’t flat, and there will always be small areas where the gel doesn’t fully reach, which can easily lead to uneven whitening, and the blotchy result can look worse than before treatment started.
2. Sensitivity Risk — As a home-based product, the strength of the bleaching agents is much lower than in professional treatments. Nonetheless, you’re still adding a harsh chemical to your mouth, and this can cause sensitivity in areas of your mouth, especially if you accidentally leave the strips on for longer than recommended.
In extreme cases, you could cause long-term damage to your tooth enamel, risking further problems including decay and even tooth loss. Never use whitening strips if you already have cavities or sensitive teeth – always check with your dentist first.
3. Gum Problems — The whitening agent should never be in contact with the sensitive flesh of your gums, but this is always a risk with self-applied treatments. Even if you take extra care, you can expect some degree of gum irritation, but careless application can cause swollen gums, blisters, and even bleeding.
So, Are Whitening Strips a Good Idea?
Even with these problems, there’s no doubt that whitening strips can be effective in lightening your teeth by a shade or two, and they’re an inexpensive and convenient remedy for a lightly stained smile.
However, you can’t expect miracles, and your teeth should be in generally good condition before considering this treatment if you want to avoid problems.
If the color of your teeth is a serious concern in your daily life, then the best idea is to visit your dentist and discuss your options. Strips can certainly help as a do-it-yourself treatment, but we may be able to recommend a more powerful method that is safer and provide better long-term results.
To put your smile to work, visit us soon!