Teeth whitening strips are flat strips of flexible plastic with a thin layer of whitening gel on them. They are one of the most popular methods because they provide great results while also being extremely convenient and cost effective.
Strips usually have two sets of sizes within the kit: larger ones for upper teeth and smaller ones for lower teeth. The protective layer is removed from the strip and the sticky side applied to the front of the teeth for the recommended period of time, which is often of 30 minutes a day for 7-14 days.
The whitening gel used on strips either contains carbamide peroxide (up to 20%) or hydrogen peroxide(up to 10%) as the active ingredient. Different manufacturers and types of strips may contain other ingredients besides bleaching agents. Potassium nitrate and strontium chloride are anti-sensitivity ingredients that may also be included. If you have a history of sensitive teeth, you will benefit from using strips that contain one of these ingredients.
Some manufacturers have made strips even easier to use by creating dissolving whitening strips. These strips may contain peroxide or a non-peroxide whitening ingredient. The strip itself is made out of glycerol, pectin, or carboxylmethyl cellulose. Glyercol is a sweet-tasting, non-toxic compound that dissolves in water. Pectin and carboxylmethyl cellulose are used as thickeners for the strips. Both dissolve in water.
The precise results and the length of time you need to use the product before seeing results differs from product to product. Length of time of use can vary between 30 minutes to 2 hours per day for 7, 14 or 21 days. With this method, results are usually noticeable within a few days to a week. User results can go up to 6 shades brighter, depending on the type of stains being treated, so it can be a very effective method.
Pros and Cons
The main advantage of whitening strips is that they are very convenient to use. The application method is all-in-one; no need for trays, gooey gels, brushes or anything. It can be done anywhere, as long as you have a few minutes to keep the strips on. They provide effective whitening results at a very affordable price.
One of the main disadvantages of strips is that if your teeth are more irregular in size and shape, it is sometimes difficult for the strip to reach into the deeper corners. In that case, it is suggested to use a touch-up method like a whitening pen to work on those areas. The other option would be to use a different method such as whitening gel in a tray. Also, some strip brands are trickier to place than others. It can take a couple of tries to put the strips on properly.
Tips and Guidelines for Use
Here are a few tips about using whitening strips:
- Avoid chlorine dioxide. Chlorine dioxide is very acidic and has been shown to damage enamel over the long term. While it’s been banned for use by dentists in the UK, some whitening strip brands manufactured elsewhere may still contain it.
- Dry your teeth. If you have a hard time keeping the strips in place, drying your teeth with a blow dryer or washcloth will help them adhere better.
- Length of product use. Some products say to leave the strips on for up to 2 hours, but remember that you’re not supposed to eat or drink with the strips in, and talking and laughing can affect the fit of the strips. So, choose a product with a timeline that you can commit to. It might be easier to sit for 15 minutes than 2 hours. On the other hand, if you have sensitivity issues, strips with a longer wearing time should be less potent and easier on gums.