Who doesn’t want a whiter, brighter smile? Stains build up over the years and are the result of everyday habits, such as drinking coffee, eating certain foods, failing to brush regularly or properly, and smoking. Teeth whitening options, such as home-use whitening strips, offer the promise of reducing or even completely eliminating years of discoloration, all at an affordable price and from the comfort of your own home.
How Teeth Whitening Strips Work
The strips resemble pieces of tape, as they are made from a flexible plastic that is then coated with a thin layer of whitening gel. This gel often contains carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide- as in, the one typically used to disinfect wounds. You apply the strip with the gel side touching the surface of your teeth. The usage schedule depends on the brand, but most recommend applying them daily over the course of a few weeks. Sounds like an easy, perfect plan, right? Well, maybe not perfect. While teeth whitening strips can certainly work wonders for your smile, there are a few drawbacks that you should be aware of before pasting them on.
Risk of Uneven Whitening
No matter how carefully and evenly you place the strips, there is always the risk of missing places. This is because the strip is two-dimensional, whereas your teeth are three-dimensional. It is very common to miss the areas bordering the slits between teeth, which causes the appearance of darker lines separating each tooth. If you are super careful, you can cover these shading discrepancies, not missing the same areas every time, but this still leaves you at risk of uneven coloring.
Potential Gum Problems
As stated before, the gel that covers one side of the whitening strips contains a bleaching agent. While it is not as powerful as the one used at the dental office, it is still a harsh chemical that can negatively affect the gums.
Increased Tooth Sensitivity
While teeth whitening strips are safe to use, they should only be called upon in moderation. Adopting them as a habit can cause the teeth to become extremely sensitive, which in turn can affect your comfort in everyday life. The strength of the whitening agent in the gel can cause the enamel to erode, leaving your teeth susceptible to permanent damage and even an increased rate of decay.
So, Should You Use Whitening Strips?
All-in-all, whitening strips are a cheap and effective alternative to undergoing a professional whitening treatment at the dentist. For those who have a healthy mouth but want to improve the whiteness of their smile, they are certainly a great option. Those with pain, cavities, decay, or gum disease should always seek out professional oral hygiene assistance instead of self-treating at home.