One of the most popular ways to whiten teeth nowadays is through the use of whitening strips. This form of smile whitening can be purchased at almost any store and even conveniently online. Your dentist in Modesto wants you to know that while whitening strips may be easy to come by and can even be effective in some cases, there are also some ways they can be bad for your teeth.
What Are Whitening Strips?
Over-the-counter teeth whitening strips are thin pieces of plastic that are slathered with whitening gel. The active and inactive ingredients in whitening strips can include:
- Hydrogen Peroxide – The active ingredient that whitens tooth enamel
- Sodium Hydroxide – A type of stain remover
- Polyvinylpyrrolidone (PVP) – Protects enamel from new stains
- Glycerin & Hydroxypropylcellulose – Helps to stick strips to teeth and keeps them in place
Patients place the strips on their upper and lower teeth for a determined amount of time, based on the product instructions. These strips can remove surface stains in as little as two weeks. However, if tooth staining is inside the tooth, whitening strips won’t help brighten your smile. This is why you should always consult your dentist in Modesto prior to whitening your teeth so you’re sure to get the results you want.
Can Whitening Strips Be Bad for Teeth?
There’s no one right answer to this as it can depend on a variety of things. For the most part, the proper use of whitening strips is safe for most people. However, if directions aren’t followed and strips are left on for too long or used too often, they can be bad for teeth. Why? The active ingredient of hydrogen peroxide can not only whiten teeth, but it can also damage enamel if not used correctly. Another thing to consider is if your whitening strips use chlorine dioxide. This ingredient will remove tooth enamel, along with stains, but the removal of enamel is dangerous and can result in unwanted side effects. Avoid using products with this ingredient as enamel damage is irreversible.
Side Effects of Whitening Strips
While most whitening strips are safe to use if the directions are followed properly, there can still be side effects. One of the most commonly reported side effects of using whitening strips is increased tooth sensitivity. Tooth sensitivity can be uncomfortable and may show itself in the form of quick zings of pain or discomfort when eating or drinking something hot or cold.
Rules of Thumb
- Don’t brush your teeth immediately after using whitening strips unless the instructions tell you to.
- Don’t use whitening strips more often than recommended in the product’s packaging.
- Don’t leave whitening strips on longer than instructed. Your teeth won’t get whiter, it just increases the risk of damage.
- Don’t use strips that contain chlorine dioxide.
- Don’t use strips that have more than 14% hydrogen peroxide.
If you’re looking to improve the look of your smile by whitening your teeth, talk with your dentist in Modesto first. They can recommend the best way to brighten your smile in a safe and effective way.