When it comes to getting white teeth, it’s not worth going the risky DIY route when you can get huge results from an over-the-counter product that’s safe and easy to use. Teeth whitening strips really do what they say on the box. Most whitening strips are a bit on the pricey side, but how can you balk at spending $50 for an entire year of a brilliant beautiful smile? That’s $5 a month. Way cheaper than getting it done professionally at the dentist.
I get complimented on my teeth all the time. When I get asked how I keep my teeth so white, I tell them whitening strips! Most often they rebut with “do they really work?” Well, see for yourself! I’ve been using whitening strips for years to maintain my gleam and along the way I’ve discovered tips and tricks that help me get the most out of each whitening strip.
The reason you shouldn’t do any DIY whitening is that the DIY route can really damage your teeth and you won’t see the kind of results that store bought strips can give you without the damage. Rubbing or brushing baking soda on your teeth actually can erode your dental enamel, weakening your teeth to sensitivity and cavities. It’s just too abrasive. And lemon juice is just the same. The acid in the lemon juice removes your enamel and damages your teeth. Once that enamel is gone it’s never coming back. And swishing with hydrogen peroxide might take months to actually show results – plus it tastes hella nasty.
I’ve been using teeth whitening strips since they first debuted. They were slimey, filmsy strips back then that would come shooting out of your mouth like a rocket if you happened to sneeze for the hour they needed to be in your mouth. They have come a long way since then. They’ve become more effective and pleasant to use.
Yes, your teeth and gums can be sensitive to the whitening agent. If you’ve never used whitening strips before, or if you just have sensitive teeth and gums, your gums will feel like they are on fire and your teeth will hurt after removing the strips. This happened to me BAD when I first started using whitening strips. It really hurt. But the more I used them the more tolerant my teeth became and now I have absolutely no sensitivity. The only time I have sore teeth is if I fall asleep with a whitening strip on and leave them on for several hours. You don’t want to know how many times this has happened. But if you have sensitivity to whitening strips, start off by only leaving the strips on for half the suggested time or only every other day until the sensitivity dies down. I really do believe that the sensitivity is only temporary. If you continue to use the strips and take good care of your teeth, you will not have the pain anymore. So don’t shy away because you think they are too painful.
The following system will take 2 to 3 weeks and give you a beautiful bright pearly smile for up to a year before needing to repeat the process. To get the best smile at home with whitening strips, here are some tips, tricks and steps to follow.
Buy the more expensive box of whitening strips.
When it comes to Crest whitening strips, there are a few “levels” of whitening. The stronger the level, the more expensive the box. You have shorter treatment times or differing levels of whitening, but when it comes to the first initial whitening treatment, you want the best. The other cheaper options can be used as “follow up” or “maintenance” treatments as they do work to whiten, they are just not as strong. It is worth the investment to go ahead and buy the $50 box.
If it stains your clothes, don’t put it in your mouth.
After whitening, your teeth are very vulnerable to staining. Even at the dentists office, they will instruct you to avoid tea, coffee, red wine, and smoking for up to 5 days after whitening. The rule is “if it stains your clothes it will stain your teeth.” Because your teeth are more porous than you might think, whitening agents work to kind of “open” those pores and make your teeth very spongey. (this is also what causes the sensitivty) So during the 2 weeks you need to fully use the at home whitening strips, you should be avoiding any staining food or drink. So get ready to go without coffee or cigarattes for a bit. Or at least figure out a way to get it to avoid your teeth, which brings me to my next tip…
If it’s something that’s going to stain your teeth or damage your enamel, use a straw. This means coffee, tea, fruit juices, lemon water, sodas, etc. If its anything other than water, it needs to go through a straw. Bite the straw past your teeth and avoid swishing the liquid in your mouth. This is super important during the 2-3 weeks of whitening, but also should be used throughout the year. This protects your teeth from enamel erosion and further staining. Also saves your lipstick, too.
Switch to a soft bristle toothbrush.
If your teeth are sensitive to the whitening process, be gentle on them and use a soft bristle toothbrush. Once again, this protects against enamel damage and so forth, and is the only recommended bristle type by dentists. Don’t think that you have to manually buff away the stains yourself. The strips do that for you.
Avoid contact with the gums as much as possible.
The ingredients in whitening products can damage your gum tissue. Not only just damage it, but gums can be sensitive and feel like they’re burning and you can get painful, unsightly white spots on your gums from wherever the whitening agent touched (these white spots will go away in a few hours or days but it is a sign of gum damage). You can either apply the strips very carefully to avoid contact, or apply Vaseline to the gumline with a Q-tip or brush to protect them before applying your whitening strips.
Do not brush your teeth immediately before or after applying strips.
Brushing your teeth before applying can increase sensitivity and pain to the whitening ingredients because it has brushed away some of your teeth natural protection. If you brush your teeth with toothpaste before applying the strips, the toothpaste leaves a film over the teeth that prevents the whitening agent from working fully. Brushing your teeth directly after can just be painful and damage your enamel further. Try brushing your teeth either 2 hours before or after whitening.
Maintain your gleam by whitening every few months.
Because I have a lot of habits that stain my teeth, I find myself having to use a whitening kit about every 6 months, when I have the money. This means I use two kits a year. Sometimes I’ll use a whitening strip here or there throughout the year to kind of maintain the color, instead of having to do a full blown 2 week treatment all over again. I really do see a noticeable difference in color after just one strip. So for a special occasion I will prep by using a single whitening strip.
Directions for Using Whitening Strips
- Floss your teeth. Remove any food particles from the corners and edges of your teeth.
- Lightly brush your teeth with just water – don’t use toothpaste and don’t fully brush your teeth. Just lightly scrape any plaque or debris off the surface of your teeth to prep.
- Curl your lips up away from your teeth and suck in air a few times to dry your teeth. This helps the strips to stick to your teeth and not slip around while they’re working.
- Apply the strips, starting from the middle and working out to the edges. Make sure they touch all exposed surface area, but try to avoid any direct contact with your gums. If they need to touch your gums in some areas, make sure your gums aren’t too dry (difficult I know, but you’ll get the hang of it) or apply vaseline to the gumline.
- Take a toothpick or your fingernail to gently tuck or press the strips into the edges of your teeth. The strip should hug the entire front of your tooth and wrap around to the edges of each tooth.
- Keep sucking in air to keep your teeth dry while applying the strips.
- Repeat steps 3-6 for the other row of teeth.
- Leave on undisturbed for 30 minutes to an hour. If you are new to whitening, try 15-30 minutes. The more experienced you are with whitening the longer you can leave them on. If you feel any unbearable pain, remove immediately.
- Pull away an edge of the whitening strip and peel off in one fluid motion. It should feel really stuck on there.
- Lightly brush your teeth with just water again to remove any leftover residue and rinse the taste out. Do not brush hard or in circles. Just drag the toothbrush down from top to bottom. Swish your mouth with water and spit.
And of course, after whitening avoid any staining food or habits for a few hours. For best results avoid any staining food or habits until after the 2 weeks is up. Having a beautiful smile takes a bit of effort, but is so worth it in the end.
Any questions or comments? Do you have a tip that I don’t know about? Let me know and leave it in the comments below!
xoxo Miss C