Do Teeth Whitening Strips Really Work?

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Your teeth may be one of the first things people notice about you, especially if you have to do a lot of talking in your job.  That’s why you want your “pearly whites” to actually be white—not yellow.  Using teeth-whitening strips has become a popular way to brighten teeth, and they have their advantages and disadvantages.

The “Science” Behind Whitening Strips

There’s no real magic involved in strips.  Over-the-counter whitening strips contain one of two substances, hydrogen peroxide or carbamide, which are both bleaching agents.  The strips are placed on the upper and lower teeth for about 30 minutes once or twice daily.  Over repeated applications, they begin to lighten the teeth, usually by one or two shades.

The solution used penetrates the enamel, getting directly to the deposits which cause yellowing, revealing a more natural “tooth” color.

Why You Might Like Them

It’s easy to see why whitening strips are popular.  You don’t need to see a dentist to get them—they’re available at any pharmacy—and they’re inexpensive.  They’re also convenient to use in the privacy of your own home and using them doesn’t consume a lot of time; you can go about your daily activities while wearing them.

And the change in the color of your teeth is so gradual, people won’t realize you’re using them.

Why You Might Not Like Them

Like all things, whitening strips have their limitations.  For one thing, they’re short-term.  You’ll enjoy whiter teeth for a few days or maybe even a few weeks, but that’s it.  So you’ll have to repeat treatments on a regular basis to maintain the whiter appearance.  And, unlike dentists’ whitening treatments, strips will go only so far to actually lighten your teeth.

More important, strips may also cause some gum or tooth irritation.  Although there’s nothing toxic in the solution, it can still cause some discomfort if you have a sensitive mouth, and repeated use will only make this worse.

Moreover, if the treatments are too frequent, they can actually cause damage to your enamel—and that can create big problems for your teeth.

Your Overall Teeth-Whitening Plan

Whether or not you decide to try whitening strips, there are other things you can do to maintain whiter teeth.   Practicing good oral hygiene is a good first step.

  • Daily brushing, flossing, and rinsing with fluoride-based products will help stave off the yellowing process.
  • Brushing as soon as possible after meals is the best way to get a jump on bacteria that build up in your mouth and cause yellowing.
  • Regular dental cleanings that remove plaque and polish your teeth are a must.
  • Avoiding “culprits” like red wine, coffee, tea, smoking, and fruits containing anthocyanidin—a pigment that’s found in berries—will go a long way in preserving your teeth’s natural color. Sugar will also cause bacteria to cultivate, and that can cause yellowing as well.

Whitening Strips vs. Professional Whitening

If whitening strips don’t meet your needs, then there is an alternative:  Professional teeth-whitening provided by a qualified dental professional.

Similar to whitening strips, the solution your dentist will use contains bleaching agents, but in a much more concentrated form, usually a gel.  If your teeth and gums are really in bad shape, a deep dental cleaning may need to be done first.

The whitening procedure, done from the comfort of a relaxing chair, takes a little longer than the strips do—but the tradeoff is how long the effects last.  You may not need to repeat the procedure for six months to a year, and you will enjoy up to eight shades whiter teeth compared to the two shades the strips will give you!

In-office teeth whitening is a painless, non-invasive treatment that’s also done with the assistance of a special laser light, which slightly heats the cleaning solution, enhancing its effectiveness.  And if you have sensitive teeth, there’s no need to worry:  you’ll hardly know that you’ve been in the dentist’s chair, except for some slight tingling afterwards that doesn’t last very long.  But not everybody experiences that.


In addition to the normal whitening procedure, you may also have the option of getting veneers, which are porcelain-like plates that are made from impressions and bonded to your teeth.

Veneers are usually used when extreme whitening is required, or if teeth are chipped, uneven, or damaged in some way. So: You have options!  And The Dental District can help you decide what’s best for you.

Located in New City Medical Plaza, The Dental District dental clinic in Tijuana offers a full range of periodontal services in Tijuana, such as crowns, bridges, root canal in Mexico, braces in Mexico, all on 4 Mexico, dental bone graft Mexico and more.  Our highly qualified, bilingual dentist in Tijuana is ready to take care of you, and at a much more affordable price than you’d find in the U.S.  Contact us today for a free initial consultation!

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