How Often Should I Use Teeth Whitening Strips?
Whitening at home has a lot of advantages. You can do it when you want to, without having to make an appointment with your dentist. It is also a more cost-effective option compared to professional whitening.
Do-it-yourself teeth whitening kits are one of the most widely used ways to whiten your teeth, and they continue to gain popularity. Whitening strips are particularly popular because you can whiten while doing a variety of other activities, and you don’t need a prescription to use them.
Teeth whitening strips help address staining problems that can discolor the teeth. In most cases, this staining occurs because of what you eat and drink. Coffee, tea, red wine, and other dark foods can alter the color of your teeth. Tobacco use and some medications will also have a similar, often more severe, effect. Teeth whitening strips help address these types of stains to provide whiter, brighter teeth.
How Do Whitening Strips Work?
Teeth whitening strips contain peroxide or bleach. The solution is on a thin, flexible strip of polyethylene, which is a type of plastic. This plastic is also used in food containers.
The bleach or peroxide acts as a whitening agent when it is pressed against your teeth. The strips also contain other ingredients that help the strip stick to your teeth and make the solution taste better, like carbomer and sodium saccharin. Pyrophosphate is also sometimes used to help deter or prevent future staining. Each of these ingredients is safe and in very small amounts in teeth whitening strips.
Another type of whitening strip uses a compound that looks like a plastic strip, but it will actually dissolve as the strip is used. Unlike the plastic strips, you do not have to remove this dissolvable strip; it simply disappears after the treatment is complete. The dissolvable whitening strip does not contain peroxide, but it may come with an “accelerator” that it will direct you to use before you use the strip.
Avoid teeth whitening strips that use chlorine dioxide. This chemical can harm your teeth’s enamel, which can lead to long-term problems, including an increase in the occurrence of certain types of stains. This chemical is actually the same one that is used to disinfect swimming pools.
How Should I Use Teeth Whitening Strips?
When you use a teeth whitening system that includes whitening strips, you will notice there are two shapes of strips—one that will be used on your upper teeth and one for your lower teeth. By pressing the whitening agents up against your teeth, it allows them to better attack stains on the tooth’s surface, and, in some cases, even below the tooth’s surface.
Once you apply the strips, you should leave them on for a specific amount of time. Consult the directions for how long you should use each strip. Each strip is good for just one whitening session and cannot be reused.
How Often Can I Use Teeth Whitening Strips?
There are restrictions on when and how often you should use teeth whitening strips. You should follow the instructions provided with the strips for specifics on how often you should use them. For example, many teeth whitening strip kits will provide enough strips to last you for 14 days, and you use one set of strips two times per day.
The 14-day treatment should last for between six and 12 months. As a result, you likely will not need to use teeth whitening strips any more than twice per year.
You should also take the strips off as directed by the instructions. Keeping the strip on too long does not help the whitening process. Instead, it can result in increased tooth sensitivity, and you may even see blotches on the teeth because of prolonged exposure to the chemicals. NEVER fall asleep with your whitening strips on.
Are There Any Side Effects of Using Whitening Strips?
Teeth whitening strips generally will not harm your teeth if they are used as directed. However, some temporary sensitivity or gum inflammation may result from the treatment. This sensitivity should generally resolve within a day or two.
You might also notice some irritation of the gums. This type of irritation is more common if strips are placed correctly or if they are larger than what you need for treatment. Ensuring that the strip is only on your teeth and not your gums can help you prevent these issues.
Will Whitening Strips Help with All Kinds of Discoloration?
While the best teeth whitening strips will affect a wide variety of surface stains, there are limitations. For example, teeth naturally get darker with age. As people age, their teeth will naturally change to a brownish yellow, regardless of how rarely they drink red wine, consume coffee, or smoke. Genetics also play a big role in the natural color of your teeth throughout your life.
Generally, there are two types of teeth discoloration.
- Intrinsic: This is the natural color of the tooth. It can change over time or because of medical reasons, such as tooth illness.
- Extrinsic: This type of discoloration is caused by deposits on the teeth. This discoloration arises because of the food you eat and the liquids you drink. Medications and plaque build-up can also affect the extrinsic color of the teeth.
If the discoloration is intrinsic or it is due to major deposits on the teeth, teeth whitening strips likely will not be effective. In fact, some teeth whitening methods can cause serious pain if the tooth you are attempting to whiten is not healthy or has a cavity.
How Can I Get More Information About Teeth Whitening Options?
There are many types of teeth whitening methods, but using teeth whitening strips is a great place to start, especially if you have never tried whitening before. Although results often vary on a case-by-case basis due to everyone’s unique dental genetics and history, Americans across the country have used teeth whitening strips with success.
While professional whitening is certainly an option, it is expensive and can be cumbersome to complete the treatment. Whitening strips are cost-effective and very easy to use. It is a good idea to try whitening strips first, before you move on to other whitening alternatives.