A smile is your calling card, and nobody wants their calling card to look yellow and discolored. That’s why we all spend so much time (and sometimes money) on our dental hygiene. But despite our best efforts, our teeth can still become stained and discolored, especially if you’re like me and need a cup of coffee or five to get you through the day.

Enter Teeth Whitening Strips, cheap, readily available and much more convenient than a trip to the dentist, they seem like the perfect solution to the problem of less-than-pearly whites.

But are teeth whitening strips safe to use?

The American Dental Association (ADA) says that most teeth whitening products are safe to use but there are a few things you should be aware of before rushing out to stock up in an effort to keep your smile dazzling white.

How Do Teeth Whitening Strips Work?

Teeth whitening strips are little bits of plastic with one side covered with a thin film of the whitening agent. This is usually a gel with either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide as one of its components. When you use the strips, they press this gel into your teeth and hold it in place while it works its magic.

So far so good, but now we get to the problems. These are:

  • Gum Problems

As I said earlier, the active component of the whitening agent is usually hydrogen or carbamide peroxide, in other words, bleach. Of course, it’s not as strong as the bleach used to clean swimming pools or even the one your dentist uses in his surgery, but it is still an abrasive chemical. When it comes into contact with the soft tissue of your gums it can burn and cause pain, especially if you already suffer from sensitive gums or other problems.


  • Uneven Whitening

Teeth whitening strips are mass-produced, while our teeth are as individual as we are. This means the strips are never going to be a perfect fit. No matter how painstakingly you apply them, there will always be some areas left uncovered or not in contact with the strip. With careful application and a bit of luck, you won’t leave the same area uncovered each time you use the strips and the overall effect will balance out, but there’s always the risk of being left with discolored spots, or a very noticeable yellow  ’’frame’’ around your teeth.

  • Tooth Damage

Every time you use whitening strips, you’re wearing down the enamel on your teeth. This shouldn’t be a problem if you use them as recommended but too many people get carried away and use them too frequently or apply them for too long. This can lead to serious problems as the bleach will end up permanently damaging your enamel leading to problems like sensitivity, decay, and  transparent teeth

So, as you see, although teeth whitening strips can be an effective ’’quick fix’’ for a dimming smile, there are some risks in using them. Another consideration is that teeth discoloration can be caused by a wide variety of factors and not all will respond well to this remedy. If you’re worried that your smile has lost its dazzle, the best thing to do is consult your dentist to find out the cause and then decide on the most appropriate course of treatment.