Whitening strips supplement healthy oral hygiene routine

According to statistics found on http://whitestrips.com, more than three million people use teeth-whitening strips each year to brighten their smiles.

Whitestrips are thin, flexible strips designed to conform to the shape of teeth. They are coated with a teeth-whitening gel containing peroxide, and whiten by remaining on teeth for 30 minutes at a time.

A link found at whitestrips.com explains that in order to effectively produce whiter teeth, whitening strips carry strong ingredients, some of which include carbamide peroxide and tetra acetyl ethylene diamante. Carbamide peroxide is a bleaching agent used in dental bleaching.

The Web site further explained that the peroxide becomes active when in contact with teeth to produce a gradual lightening of the surface enamel. Tetra acetyl ethylene diamante is a bleach activator that begins to work after the carbamide peroxide takes effect.

An additional ingredient contained in whitening strips is hydrogen peroxide, a clear colorless liquid that often acts to dilute to tetra acetyl ethylene.

Dr. Charles E. Swanson of Family Dentistry on Thomasville Road said the hydrogen peroxide breaks down, allowing oxygen into the enamel of the teeth to bleach them.

Swanson said if whitestrips are used properly and in safe concentrations, they should not be damaging in any way.

In order to prevent adverse effects, he suggested following the instructions very carefully on the box. Common directions include not using the strips more than 21 days at a time and leaving them on only for the allotted time.

Despite the potential of the strips to generate white smiles, some students said they had uncomfortable side effects.

Shawn Houston, 19, a criminal justice student from Tallahassee, said after just three applications of whitening strips, she experienced some discomfort on her gums.

“I tried whitening strips because I wanted to help improve the shade of my teeth, but after I used it a few times, I noticed that my gums became ultra-sensitive to hot and cold foods,” Shawn said.

Brittany Williams, 21, a health science student from Orlando, said she also experienced sensitive gums.

“After I saw all the advertisements about a product that could make my teeth whiter in only seven days, I knew I should try it out,” Williams said. “I bought them and started to wear them just as the directions had instructed me to do, but after a while, I started to notice that they left a bad taste in my mouth, and they also made my gums sensitive when it came to eating different things.”

Even though this product seems to produce quick results, some dental professionals advise other methods.

Dennis Hayes, at Capital City Family Dentist, recommends brushing daily after meals, staying away from drinks with lots of caffeine and not using tobacco products in order to get that perfect set of teeth. He suggests whitening strips as an alternative after following those steps.

“For those who followed all these rules and still don’t have the turnout they desire and professional whitening can not be afforded, then using whitening strips is the next best thing,” Hayes said.