Is Home Teeth Whitening the Best Bleaching Choice for You?

A positive first impression is important in life. A nice smile and white teeth make a first impression that can last a lifetime. It is no secret that teeth lose their whiteness as we age, and that can make for a bad impression. Hollywood celebrities know this and that's why... Read More

How Do Teeth Whitening Strips Work

Teeth whitening strips were first introduced to the popular market almost a decade ago as an inexpensive alternative to teeth whitening procedures through a dental office.  Since those early days, whitening strips have improved dramatically and continue to be a popular choice for individuals who want to keep their smile bright and dazzling white.

How Whitening Strips Work

Teeth whitening strips are small strips of extremely thin and flexible plastic.  The strips are coated with a whitener, usually a hydrogen peroxide whitener.  The strips are placed on the teeth with the whitener side placed directly on the teeth.  The strips are left on the teeth for a prescribed time, usually approximately 30 minutes.  Most often, strips are intended to be used twice a day for a period of approximately one to two weeks.

Hot Teeth Whitening Topic

Whitening strips usually whiten the front teeth and not the entire smile including the side teeth.  Also it is important to note that strips do not usually whiten existing dental work, like bridges or dentures, and it may be necessary to replace dental work that does not match teeth after a whitening procedure.

Strips versus Trays

Traditional teeth whitening options from your dentist very commonly involve using a bleaching product in a tray that is created through dental impressions.  The tray is custom fitted for your teeth and usually you can take it home and use it at your own convenience.

There are also tray tooth whitening systems that are available at your local drug store.  These systems have a one size fits all tray that is filled with the whitener solution (usually a gel) and placed over the teeth.

The advantage of using teeth whitening trays is that it allows you to whiten your entire smile, while strips usually only whiten your front top and bottom teeth.  Also, because the strips are extremely thin, it is possible to wear them and be able to speak and do other activities.  Plus, strips are often hard for others to see unless they are right up and looking into your mouth.

Trays can provoke or exacerbate a number of problems.  If you have jaw problems, the trays can cause your jaw to hurt or be uncomfortable – this is more true with over-the-counter tray systems than custom made trays.  Other problems associated with tray whitening systems include provoking the gag reflex, making speech difficult and often requiring dedicated time when using the tray.

Side Effects

One of the most noticeable side effects of most teeth whitening systems is increased tooth sensitivity, particularly if tooth whitening is overused.  During the period that the strips are being used, it may be necessary to use a sensitivity toothpaste to help alleviate this side effect.

Another side effect that is common is gum tenderness or irritation.  Gum irritation may be caused if the strips are not placed correctly and overlap up into the gum line.  If this happens, the peroxide in the strips that whitens the teeth is irritating to the gums and results in discomfort.