Are Teeth Whitening Strips Harmful?

teeth whitening strips

Every year, millions of people across the world opt for many cosmetic dentistry procedures. Among them, teeth whitening treatment is the most popular.

Because of the increased use of social media, many young people are conscious about their looks, of which teeth are an important part. To make their smile better and whiter, more than ever before people are using teeth whitening strips.

What are teeth whitening strips?

Teeth whitening strips are nothing but bleach, manufactured like a gel, which is applied to the teeth to make them look whiter. They are made from a flexible plastic gel like substance, which is coated on the strip in a thin layer, which usually contains either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. These strips need to be pressed against your teeth for the gel to stick to your teeth in an even layer.

While being applied to the teeth, the strips should be held in place for a while for it to get transferred to your teeth, allowing it to penetrate the tooth and begin its teeth lightening work. The strips are supposed to be applied daily over a period of two to three weeks. The results are supposed to last for about 4 months if applied correctly, as directed by the instructions given with the pack of strips.

The whitening strips more or less work like bleach. The basic principle is similar to the one applied to clothes and hair. The hydrogen peroxide penetrates the surface of the teeth and bleaches the surface, which makes way for the original white colour to show through.

These strips are quite easy to use. The customer is supposed to follow directions on the pack for the best results. In fact, one of the reasons of the popularity of the stripes is its simplicity of use.

Why are they used?

Who doesn’t wish that their smile was a little bright and white like the celebrities on screen? People hope that the years of staining due to poor oral habits and hygiene may somehow magically vanish overnight. Teeth whitening strips give them this hope.

There are a number of reasons for the teeth to lose its white colour and become stained, or yellow or discoloured in patches. One of the most common reason is chewing tobacco. In many countries, tobacco is used in a variety of forms.  Smoking is known to stain teeth because of its nicotine content.

Another common substance is colouring agent in drinks which discolours the teeth in the long run. Sometimes, with age, individuals find their teeth losing its bright white colour and slowly becoming yellowish. Physical and mental trauma also makes teeth stained. In certain cases, medication makes teeth lose its colour and make them look dull and yellow.

Teeth whitening stripes may not work best in all these conditions. Only your dental professional would be able to guide you as to whether teeth whitening strips will be useful or not in your case, depending on the reason your teeth have lost its original colour. It may be a low cost way of whitening yellow or stained teeth, but a teeth whitening procedure at the dental clinic may be a more suitable option in a majority of cases. Sometimes, getting dental veneers may be what you need to provide longer lasting results than teeth whitening strips. So it is better to check with your dentist first before buying the strips.

Advantages of whitening strips

  1. Expense

Teeth whitening strips are less expensive than any other treatment for whitening teeth. So it is an economical option.

  1. Ease of use

The strips are easy to use. No preparation is needed before applying the strips.

  1. Ease of carrying anywhere

They can be carried with you anywhere as they are small and not heavy.

Disadvantages of whitening strips

Apart from the clear convenience of use, the teeth whitening stripes actually have many disadvantages. Before deciding to use the teeth whitening stripes, it is important for everyone to be aware of its drawbacks.

  1. Uneven whitening

No matter how much care you take in applying the strips, the fact remains that you are applying a flat strip on an uneven surface! This makes it difficult for the strip to come into contact with the entire tooth. Even with a lot of care, there will be gaps in the tooth where the strips have not come in contact with the tooth. Of course in the next application these spots may get covered, but there will be other spots where the strip has not touched. So finally at the end of the treatment, all your teeth may not look uniformly white. There will be uneven whiteness. In the worst cases it may result in an unsightly set of unevenly whitened teeth, with noticeable yellow edges.

  1. May cause gum problems

Many a time, the chemical, or the bleaching agent is harsh and may damage the tissues of the gums which are soft. It is very difficult to avoid contact between the gel on the strip and the soft tissues of the gum. And, you have to apply the strip many times for days and weeks for the gel to work on teeth. Getting the strip correct every time is harder than doing it only once.

  1. May lead to sensitive teeth and gums

Overuse of the strips may make your gums and teeth sensitive. Overuse of chemicals on teeth may erode the enamel layer of the teeth which leads to decay. Prolonged whitening treatment leads to damage to gums also.  It is recommended by dentists to get your teeth and gums checked before you start with any teeth whitening treatment.

The best and safest option to whiten your teeth would also be under the expert supervision of a dental professional.

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