When browsing the dental hygiene section in a supermarket or pharmacy aisle, it may be tempting to look at the many products that claim to whiten your teeth safely at home. These products come as strips, gels, or toothpaste that offer the promise of a bright white smile, over the counter, without a visit to the dentist. But do whitening strips work? Do they live up to their claims?
In this post, we’ll explore the anatomy of the teeth and what gives them their color. Next, we’ll see how cosmetic whitening strips do what they do and whether their claims are effective. Finally, we’ll focus on what to look out for and the precautions you should take when using over-the-counter products for your teeth, and how to set up a consultation with your dentist.
Tooth Anatomy: What Exactly is “White?”
Your teeth have a thin coating of enamel on the outermost surface. Naturally, the layer is white and translucent, meaning that it can show the color of the dentin layer directly underneath. But this layer is yellowish-brown and relatively opaque. It is also the layer that forms the majority of the tooth’s color; the outer enamel is just a translucent cover that accentuates the appearance of the dentin.
As is commonly known, your teeth might experience staining or discoloration if you eat or drink foods or beverages that are prone to staining or have a high acid content. However, this can also happen through simply neglecting an excellent oral hygiene routine. Brushing, flossing, and using mouthwash regularly are key to preventing tartar buildup, which can give your teeth an unpleasant appearance.
How Do Whitening Strips Work?
Commonly available, whitening strips work by changing the color of the tooth enamel. As a result, they usually incorporate bleaching agents such as carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. They can only change the color by a shade or two, but they can work effectively to correct minor staining.
Using them is simple. You apply the strips to your upper and lower front teeth and leave them on for about 30 minutes, or as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Then, you continue doing so for some time; manufacturers usually recommend using them twice a day for about two weeks.
Within a few days, the bleaching agents start to make a difference and remove staining from the outer layer of visible enamel. They can also penetrate deeper into your intrinsic enamel, removing staining from within.
However easy it may be, using whitening strips can sometimes lead to oversensitive teeth or gum irritation. That’s why…
It’s Important to Speak to Your Dentist Beforehand
While more products allow you to whiten your teeth safely within the comfort of your home, it’s always a good idea to get clearance from your dentist. Sometimes, you may have sensitive teeth that may not respond comfortably to whitening. Also, if you’ve had any dental work done in the past, such as fillings, veneers, or crowns, it’s wise to consult your dentist about what is best for you.
Get in touch with us at Nimmi Shine Dental. You can call our San Diego dentist at (858) 999-8550. We’ll be happy to answer any questions or schedule a consultation to give you a brighter, whiter smile.