Teeth whitening strips are a popular and heavily marketed whitening product, but can simple strips whiten your teeth? The active ingredient in whitening strips is used in many different whitening products, but can a few thin strips really contain enough of this bleaching agent to get you the whiter smile you want? Are gels and toothpastes more effective than strips? Read on to find out.
Are Teeth Whitening Strips Really Effective At Whitening Teeth?
Different whitening products will get you different results depending on the amount and concentration of the active whitening ingredient, called peroxide, that is found in the product. One of the most commonly used over the counter at home whitening products are teeth whitening strips. Whitening strips are made by a number of different manufacturers and vary greatly in the concentrations of peroxide used and in their whitening effectiveness.
The strength of whitening strips depends on the amount of peroxide found in them, which isn’t always as simple to tell as it should be. You’ll want to stick to a reputable brand that is ADA approved for the best and safest results. Uncomfortable side effects are a possibility with any whitening product that uses peroxide, so the reputation of the brand matters when searching for a safe but effective product.
The best whitening strips can make a significant difference in your smile and whiten your teeth by several shades, while less effective brands that use less peroxide will not get you the same results. When shopping online for a whitening product it’s important to look at reviews and ratings to determine what product to purchase.
In short, a high quality brand of whitening strips that contains a significant percentage of peroxide can whiten yellow stained teeth effectively. However, care must be taken when shopping to find an effective brand, and there are side effects to watch out for.
How Do Whitening Strips Compare With Gels and Toothpastes?
Generally one teeth bleaching product will be more effective than another if it contains a greater concentration of the active whitening ingredient, peroxide. Whitening gels and strips are both quite effective at whitening teeth, though some gels can be purchased online which include a stronger concentration of peroxide than most whitening strips. However, since most whitening gels use carbamide peroxide and most whitening strips use hydrogen peroxide as their active ingredient, making a direct comparison between the two is not as simple as comparing the percentage of peroxide included in the product.
Most whitening toothpastes do not include peroxide, though there are exceptions that are worth looking into, but instead rely on abrasives like baking soda and hydrated silica to scrape off stains on the outer layer of enamel. The downside to abrasion is that too much can remove enamel from your teeth, damaging them and making them sensitive and even more susceptible to staining. For this reason I recommend avoiding most popular whitening toothpastes and using a brand that features peroxide in addition to limited amounts of gentle abrasives.
How Do Teeth Whitening Strips Work?
The key whitening ingredient in whitening strips is peroxide. All teeth bleaching products like whitening gels, whitening pens, and whitening strips contain peroxide in one of two possible forms. Carbamide peroxide is the most commonly used in gels and can be found in some more effective whitening toothpastes as well, while hydrogen peroxide is typically used in whitening strips and whitening pens.
Carbamide peroxide breaks down into hydrogen peroxide, meaning this form of peroxide is less effective at whitening than an equal concentration of hydrogen peroxide. In fact carbamide peroxide is around 1/3 the strength of the same concentration of hydrogen peroxide. Despite this carbamide is still an effective whitening agent and is often used in gels because it can be safer to handle than high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide.
Hydrogen peroxide is an oxidizer, meaning it breaks down itself into oxygen and water. The concentrated oxygen penetrating through the pores of your enamel into your teeth is what breaks apart the stains that discolor you teeth. These stain pigments are torn apart at a molecular level by the oxygen. This is why peroxide whitening gels and strips are more effective at whitening teeth than abrasives like baking soda or most whitening toothpastes, which don’t include peroxide.
What Are The Side Effects Of Using Teeth Whitening Strips?
Like all peroxide whitening products, teeth whitening strips have a risk of side effects. Specifically, you need to be aware of the potential for increased tooth sensitivity and possible gum irritation.
A temporary increase in dental sensitivity to extreme temperatures is a common side effect of whitening your teeth with peroxide. This means it can be painful to eat ice cream or drink hot coffee. This side effect will diminish and eventually disappear once you stop your whitening treatment. The best way to avoid this or to quicken recovery from it is to use a restorative toothpaste to repair the structure of your teeth and decrease sensitivity before beginning your whitening regimen.
Gum irritation can be limited by carefully applying the strips so that they do not come into contact with your gums. Depending on the brand of strips and their size, this may be difficult to avoid.
You can also decrease the time you wear the whitening strips to decrease the risk of sensitivity and gum irritation, however this will of course decrease the effectiveness of the whitening process. Despite this you can still get great whitening results by wearing the strips only on every other day and using a high quality whitening toothpaste in conjunction with them.
Should They Be Used With Other Whitening Products Or By Themselves?
To avoid the side effects associated with peroxide teeth bleaching you should only use one high concentration peroxide whitening product at a time. Choose a quality brand of whitening gel, whitening strips or a whitening pen and use it according to the directions. Continue to brush regularly with a high quality toothpaste, either a restorative toothpaste if you are suffering from sensitive teeth, or a whitening toothpaste to maintain the new smile you’ll receive from a peroxide whitening product.
Remember that no peroxide-based whitening product can whiten crowns or capped teeth, since peroxide can only whiten the natural tooth enamel. It’s also important to know that stains caused by tetracycline, which cause teeth to become a shade of gray, are much more difficult to whiten than yellow stains caused by food. While whitening strips used correctly can provide noticeable results of up to several shades lighter teeth, it’s helpful to temper your expectations. No over the counter product can get you movie star white teeth, but you can get a significantly whiter smile that lets you brighten up a room with a quality brand of whitening strips.
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