whitening strips

Whitening strips are the most convenient invention of modern dentistry. All the user has to do is stick one of the whitening strips over the surface of the teeth and then remove it after a few minutes. These strips are easily available at the pharmacy and are very affordable. The results are also guaranteed. Another major draw is that the patient does not require a prescription to use these strips and can easily buy them from the pharmacy.

The strips also do not require any special aftercare regime to maintain the results. However, the patient is advised to avoid eating foods that may stain the teeth. The patient should not face any major side effects if the strips are being done occasionally. However, when these strips are used on a regular basis, they can easily damage the teeth. Potential damage to the teeth is also possible if the strips are not being used correctly.

As you can see, the whitening strips are very convenient; however, they have some disadvantages as well. The adhesive used in the whitening strips is not very strong and can get dried up, hence making the strip useless. Also, if the adhesive used in the whitening strip is not of good quality material, it can damage the teeth surface over the course of time.

The strips are suitable for removing light stains like coffee stains, teeth that are stained from certain foods, stains from drinking wine, etc. However, stains like the ones from excessive tobacco chewing, excessive smoking, etc. cannot be removed with the help of these strips. The strips do lighten the colour of such stains but sometimes discoloration can occur as the stain is too strong for the whitening strip to be removed.

Let us try to understand some of the risks of using teeth whitening strips.

Harmful ingredients in the strips

Whitening strips promise to provide pearly white teeth within a span of minutes. This is possible because of all the chemicals present in it, mainly hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide. Hydrogen peroxide is a bleaching agent and an oxidizing agent. It helps to lighten the colour of the teeth by bleaching them. It is also used in teeth whitening treatments in the form of a solution, but in teeth whitening strips, they are present in gel form.

It is fine to use these strips once in a while, but most people use these strips on a regular basis. When hydrogen peroxide comes is used regularly, it is bound to damage teeth. The outer dentin layer is the most affected out of all the parts of the tooth. This dentin layer contains essential proteins necessary for strengthening the tooth. The hydrogen peroxide present in the strips oxidizes these proteins and damages the teeth.

Teeth sensitivity is also caused due to high content of hydrogen peroxide in these strips. The whitening strips available at the market may contain 14 percent of hydrogen peroxide and the milder version may have 6 percent of it.

Teeth sensitivity

Whenever peroxides are used frequently, the patient is likely to experience teeth sensitivity. Peroxides are able to penetrate the hard layer of enamel and reach the soft dentin. If the patient already has sensitive teeth, the condition could be made much worse and the sensitivity could increase. The sensitivity usually lasts for 48 hours. But frequent use of such strips may cause the teeth to become permanently sensitive. Such teeth cannot stand foods with hot or cold temperatures, sour tasting foods can cause discomfort to a patient with sensitive teeth. The teeth also start becoming weak due to high sensitivity.

Damage to gums

When a whitening strip is made to sit on the teeth for a few minutes, it is bound to come in contact with the gums. The gum tissue is very soft and can be easily damaged by chemicals as deep penetration is easy. Due to the frequency of the peroxide gel with the gums, they become irritated and painful. Soreness is also observed. If the patient doesn’t stop using the strips, the gums may even start bleeding. The situation may become even more hurtful if the patient has cavities.

Discoloration of teeth

Teeth whitening strips work efficiently if the patient correctly sticks them over the surface of the teeth. Even application helps all the teeth shine. If the patient does not apply them correctly it may whiten some teeth and leave others. Frequent application of the whitening strips may even cause the discoloration to be permanent. Spotting on the teeth is also possible. White spots could appear on the surface of the teeth due to the hydrogen peroxide. It can make the teeth look bad and unhygienic.

The strips are useful for removing stains caused due to consumption of foods and beverages that lightly stain the teeth, like, stains caused due to excessive consumption of coffee or tea, eating foods that are highly coloured and which leave the teeth stained, and wine stains, etc. are easily removed from the teeth. If the patient wants to get rid of the stains completely, he must attend a professional tooth whitening procedure as strong stains like these cannot be removed from teeth whitening strips.

Tooth damage

Tooth damage due to whitening strips is very rare, but quite possible. The risk increases if the patient is already suffering from gum disease or cavities. If the patient is undergoing some other dental treatment, it is advised to not use whitening strips as the roots are often exposed for treatments. If the whitening strips come in contact with these exposed roots, it may cause pain to the patient and possible damage to the nerves.

Teeth sensitivity, discomfort, irritation to the gums, etc. are some other side effects of using these strips that could damage the teeth. Such damage to the teeth makes them weak and tooth loss becomes easy. Also, chewing and speaking problems may also arise.