The Do's and Dont's of Teeth Whitening Strips

Teeth whitening strips.  We have all seen them at our local grocery stores, watched advertisements on the television professing their effectiveness, or have had our dentists recommend them - while moving on with our lives, and forgetting to use them. 

Whether we’ve noticed it yet or not, all of our teeth are discolouring.  The staining of our teeth can come gradually with age, with more severe and drastic teeth discolouration occurring because of lack of oral hygiene, smoking, or diet-caused teeth staining.

Flossing and brushing daily - even if done multiple times as advised - may not reverse or even halt our teeth turning yellow.  Changing our diets to avoid foods that stain our teeth will help, but can become tedious and limiting.  Avoiding coffee and fizzy drinks also helps minimise tooth discolouration, but the inconvenience of doing so limits those who adhere to it.

Teeth whitening strips are the easy-to-use, convenient, and underused remedy that most of us are not taking advantage of.  Do they work?

teeth whitening strips how do they work

How Teeth Whitening Strips Work

Follow Instructions

Most teeth whitening strips are simple to use and straightforward.  We advise always following instructions before use.  Most brands of teeth whiteners are used or applied the same way.  A safe and effective product that we’ve found locally are Bliss Leave-In Whitening Strips. However, caution is called for, as differing brands offer different whitening strengths.  Over-application may cause damage to the teeth or gums.

Brush Teeth Before Application

Brush your teeth before applying any teeth whitening strips.  Applying strips on unbrushed teeth may cause blotchy or spotty results.  Food and bacteria trapped under the whitening strip may cause uneven results in the whitening procedure.  Brushed teeth also allow for the hydrogen peroxide to penetrate the enamel easier.  Brushing before application also removes any plaque that might prevent the teeth whitening strips to work at its peak effectiveness.  It is advised to brush teeth prior to applying any whitening product, to allow the saliva to properly clean any excess fluoride from brushing.

Teeth Whitening Strip Preparation

Always consult the instructions before applying whitening strips.  In general, most teeth whitening strips are marked for either your top or bottom row of teeth.  There are two sides to each strip.  The rule of thumb states that the side with gel should be applied directly to the teeth.  This gel contains the whitening solution needed.  The smooth side of the strip has no solution and is there to simply help you apply the whitening strips correctly.  

Teeth Whitening Strip Application

After figuring out which strip will be applied where, apply the strips one by one, evenly, over your teeth.  Make sure to smooth out any bumps or wrinkles in the strip by slowly running your fingers over the strips.  

It is best to apply strips over brushed and dry teeth.  Dry teeth make the application process much easier.  You can simply use a towel to do so - or have some fun and use a cheek retractor to space your teeth from your cheeks, allowing for air to dry any moisture.  

Take care not to allow the strips to overlap your gums.  The gel on any overlapping strips may cause irritation or a slight burning sensation to the gums.

The Wait

Most teeth whitening strip brands ask for about a 60 minute wait time.  This varies from brand to brand, so make sure to double-check the instructions before applying.  The key during this wait is to try and keep the mouth as dry as possible.  

Breathing through the mouth is a great trick.  Saliva build up is the biggest obstacle here, so we suggest laying down during this half an hour wait - minimising any saliva collection in the mouth.

applying teeth whitening strips

Teeth Whitening Strip Removal

Always remove the strips after the suggested amount of time has passed.  Do not follow through with the natural urge of leaving them on for longer.  That can be dangerous to the teeth.  Though we may think that we are maximising the use and are being more thorough leaving them on longer than the suggested time, this can actually cause damage to the teeth and completely negate any whitening effects of the strips.

Throw the strips away and either thoroughly rinse the mouth, or better yet, have another quick brush.  It’s important to remove all of the gel, or whitening solution.  Do not swallow.  

Repeat

Teeth whitening strips are designed to be used over time.  It is a gradual process and must be repeated over time to have any noticeable or lasting effects.  Most brands call for usage once or twice a day every month or so, over a 4-6 month period.  We suggest choosing your “teeth whitening day” each month, ensuring that it is diarised and won’t be forgotten.  Always take care to follow instructions on how often you should use your chosen teeth whitening strips.  

Conclusion

Teeth whitening strips work.  Most people simply choose not to try them or do not use them properly.  They are an effective yet inexpensive way to combat teeth discolouration.  Monthly usage of teeth whitening strips, combined with proper brushing and flossing, is an obvious yet often overlooked way to combat losing the “pearly whiteness” colour of our teeth.