Should you use teeth whitening strips?

Berni is Bemused:

I drink a lot of coffee when I’m pulling all nighters and I notice my teeth are getting stained. Will teeth whitening strips do any good?

The Left Brain Responds:

Actually, teeth whitening strips are a real technology innovation in dental care. In case you’re not familiar with them, they consist of thin strips of plastic (polyethylene to be precise) that are coated on one side with a gummy mixture of ingredients that include hydrogen peroxide. You simply apply strips to your front and bottom teeth and let them stay there for about 30 minutes. The peroxide reacts with the stains on your teeeth and release oxygen which bleaches the color out of the stains. The result is whiter teeth after about a week or two of usage. Check out for more details.

Do they really work? Indeed they do. Clinical studies by P&G (makers of Crest white strips) have shown that they are both safe and effective. This isn’t surprising since they’re using a lower concentration of the same active ingredient (hydrogen peroxide) used by dental professionals. (Professional products contain 15% to 43% peroxide, over-the-counter products, use 3% , 6% or 10%). Of course how well they work will depend on a variety of factors including how badly your teeth are stained and how consistently you use the strips. At least one Beauty Brains affiliate has tried them and seen positive results.

Is there any downside to using them? Well, there are some issues but nothing that should stop you from using them. First of all the strips really only cover the front teeth so it’s hard to get a uniformly whiter smile. True, you can’t see the back and side teeth as well, but still, it would be nice if the strips worked on them as well. Also, some people develop a tooth sensitivity as a result of contact with the peroxide, which can be uncomfortable. But there’s nothing inherently dangerous about using them if you follow the directions.

For more Q & A on this topic go to Our fave FAQ is about accidentally swallowing the strips!