Teeth whitening has become more practical in the last decade. Time was when it was entirely up to your dentist to remove stains and discoloration on your teeth. But today, you already have the power — thanks to teeth whitening strips! You can now have shiny white teeth in the comforts of your own home, at the office, or on the go. DIY cosmetic treatments to brighten your face!
What are teeth whitening strips?
Teeth whitening strips are ultra-thin polyethylene (think: plastic) films that contain teeth whitening ingredients. You put a length of this strip over and under your teeth and leave it there for a period of time for the chemicals to remove stains and discoloration on the enamel of your teeth. Voila! Whiter teeth.
The main ingredient in teeth whitening strips.
The main chemical ingredient responsible for removing stains on your teeth is hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Hydrogen peroxide is a caustic substance used in high concentrations (up to 90%) in big industries as a bleaching and disinfecting agent. Food industries use ‘food grade’ (35%) hydrogen peroxide. It is also used in medical applications in lower concentrations (3 – 10%) to clean and disinfect wounds. Also, hydrogen peroxide (6 – 10%) has been used in the cosmetic industry as a hair bleaching agent. In teeth whitening strips the concentration of hydrogen peroxide is between 6 – 14%. Higher concentrations (14%) of hydrogen peroxide guarantee quicker teeth whitening while those with lower concentrations (6%) work longer, some as long as two weeks, to achieve a more lasting whiteness.
Higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide in some teeth whitening strips have raised concerns about irritation and sensitivity. This is because hydrogen peroxide can cause tissue irritation in your gums. Also, it may promote nerve stimulation in your teeth causing you to experience sensitivity to cold and unpleasant tingling sensations. If this is the case you can do one of two things.
1) Use teeth whitening strips with a lower hydrogen peroxide concentration. Find out at what level of concentration you won’t experience any of the adverse effects. It is sometimes better to use lower strips with lower concentrations for better and more lasting results. Oftentimes the main reason for using strips with a higher concentration is for immediate whitening; for events or special occasions. But for general management of teeth stains and discoloration, a constant low level exposure to hydrogen peroxide may result in deeper bleaching of teeth enamel.
2) Aside from using strips with a lower peroxide concentration, you may use strips with boosters. There are whitening strips containing added ingredients for the general maintenance of teeth health, including fluoride which is known to strengthen teeth, potassium nitrate which reduces teeth sensitivity, and xylitol which fights against bacteria.
Whatever teeth whitening strips you decide to use, it is recommended that you consult with your dentist at least once every six months for the general care and maintenance of you dental health. Also, always follow the product recommendation on the package, for best results.