Teeth Whitening Strips
October 19, 2005 10:57 PM   Subscribe

My wife and I just purchased two boxes of Crest Whitestrips Classics. I want to know before we get too far into the two week process, if there's any potentially negative "side effects" to using teeth whitening strips. The box label says our teeth will be nice and white for 12 months! These strips aren't cheap either! Not to mention, I just discovered there are different strengths of the Whitestrips e.g."Premium, Professional, & Supreme!" Would a professional whitening treatment at our dentist's office be better as far as cost/safety,etc?
posted by thebarron to Health & Fitness (24 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
They used to sell these at the dentist I went to. They don't now as they are available over the counter.

My dentist had no problem recommending them, although the hygienist told me last time they didn't mind getting rid of them because they didn't work for many people. The in-office procedures were recommended as way more effective and way quicker by my dentist, but double-way more expensive.

The reason they didn't work: very few people actually apply them for the 30 minutes twice daily for one month or whatever it was they required. They really aren't kidding: if you don't do that, they don't work.

They also cautioned strongly against doing it for any longer: apparently some yahoos can damage their teeth by thinking "gee, I missed last week, I better do a 1 hour treatment three times a day this week."

But the recommended treatment was as safe as modern, peer-reviewed medicine could determine.

I am not a dentist.
posted by teece at 12:05 AM on October 20, 2005

I was told this in regards to the in-office whitening procedure, but I would think it would apply to Crest Whitestrips also. They won't whiten any tooth-colored fillings which may result in uneven coloring if you have any of them.
posted by hootch at 12:22 AM on October 20, 2005

I used them once and they worked well. The only side effect that I noticed was that my teeth were sensitive to cold for a couple weeks after I was done with them.
posted by ArsncHeart at 12:43 AM on October 20, 2005

They work fine. I only did half the box at a time. That whitened them substantially, but not so much that folks need sunglasses if I smiled in the dark. I see people all the time with teeth unnaturally white. I don't want that.
posted by wsg at 1:22 AM on October 20, 2005

I've used both the Crest White Strips (didn't do much for me) and the Crest Night Effects Gel (worked much better, I'd try it again if I had money burning a hole in my pocket). I don't remember any negative side effects from either.
posted by aiko at 1:34 AM on October 20, 2005

I tried them and they irritated my gums so I stopped. As far as I know, that's the worst that'll happen.
posted by cali at 1:43 AM on October 20, 2005

I just wanted to point out that you can find these pretty cheap on eBay.
posted by skryche at 5:59 AM on October 20, 2005

I used Whitestrips three years ago. After a few days, my cheeks puffed up like a balloon because the chemicals irritated my gums and mouth. There was some tenderness and it looked like I had a toothache. But they did get my teeth very white, and the puffiness subsided.
posted by amber_dale at 6:15 AM on October 20, 2005

A slight hijack: anyone else notice that "whitening" toothpaste has been pretty standard for the last couple of years, and my teeth aren't any whiter! I've used whitening paste more or less every day for years and I haven't noticed any change...how long is it supposed to take with that stuff?!
posted by zardoz at 6:50 AM on October 20, 2005

Well, they can't be good for your teeth, I wouldn't think. Another concern is that according to this article, they are suspected by some doctors of causing oral cancer, are not subject to FDA approval, and have never been subject to any long-term safety studies.
posted by footnote at 6:55 AM on October 20, 2005

I did them, and I used them more frequently than it said on the box (apparently I'm a 'yahoo') They worked great. Nine months later I'm starting to think I need to do them again. The deal with the different prices and times is just that the more expensive 3 or 5 day ones have more bleach per strip so you need to use fewer of them. Cheap ones work just as well, but the total time with the crap on your teeth is much longer. I found though that they caused less sensitivity, so if you hate that sensitive tooth pain they might be better for you.

I asked my dentist and he said they were fine (I was surprised because he's both very cautious and very keen to make money for his office). He also said that the 'yahoo' method wouldn't hurt because the strength of the strips all adds up (if that makes sense...) and it's just a question of how long it takes, on a continium of dentists office treatment to expensive 3 day strips to cheap 14 day ones. His only reservation was that they aren't very permanent.

And whitening tooth paste never did anything for me!
posted by crabintheocean at 7:16 AM on October 20, 2005

I used the gel version, applying it every night for two weeks. It was kind of a pain, less so as I got more experienced with putting the goop on appropriately. I wondered if the inert ingredients (the sticky resin) was going to do something really bad to me. But so far no ill effects.
posted by alms at 7:59 AM on October 20, 2005

Easy cheapo do-it-yourself instant whitening: make a paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide, brush with it. Your gums may turn white for about ten minutes and it tastes like utter shit, but you will see instant results. For pennies.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:05 AM on October 20, 2005

CL: For real...?
posted by Tubes at 9:17 AM on October 20, 2005

Whitening your teeth has more to do with a change of lifestyle than toothpaste or whitestrips. I.E. if you continue smoking, drinking coffee, tea, soda, eating sweets, etc then they will not help much. 5 Easy Ways to Whiten Your Teeth Don't buy into the consumer society myths and advertising!
posted by JJ86 at 9:18 AM on October 20, 2005

(You do realize that the number 5 item on that list is "Buy whitening strips"?)
posted by occhiblu at 9:24 AM on October 20, 2005

Don't buy into the consumer society myths and advertising!

*Groan* Don't buy into hippy moralizing!
posted by crabintheocean at 9:54 AM on October 20, 2005

CL: Really??? Have you done this before?
posted by jerryg99 at 10:01 AM on October 20, 2005

I think it was CL who mentioned it in a prior thread and so I tried it - seems to work (I'm a smoker and I drink coffee), but it's not very dramatic as a one-off thing.

Tried it for a week (after every brushing with "normal" whitening toothpaste [which is probably a scam and not good for teeth]) and it *did* make a difference.

Been too lazy to keep it up, though.
posted by PurplePorpoise at 10:54 AM on October 20, 2005

I used the strips before my wedding last year. They were annoying to wear and left my teeth a little sensitive to cold afterwards, but they did lighten my teeth a bit. The change was not dramatic [I was a little disappointed] and it seemed to fade pretty fast. YMMV.
posted by Bella Sebastian at 11:41 AM on October 20, 2005

If you want whiter teeth - try a Sonicare electric toothbrush, expensive but worth it (and no chemicals)
posted by Lanark at 11:44 AM on October 20, 2005

The active whitening agent in these strips and gels are derivatives of hydrogen peroxide so CL's home remedy isn't that far off. The strips and gels just provide a way for you to apply it to your teeth for longer periods of time to increase effectiveness (as opposed to brushing with hydrogen peroxide and rinsing it out).

Another concern is that according to this article, they are suspected by some doctors of causing oral cancer, are not subject to FDA approval, and have never been subject to any long-term safety studies.

If you read the first page, you'll see the doctor-researcher anecdotally attributes the suspected cancer to the hydrogen peroxide in the whitening gels that trigger free radicals. A pretty weak link if you consider the study only identified 2 who developed oral cancer in their 40s (one who was a smoker) from a study of 19 people total.
posted by junesix at 1:23 PM on October 20, 2005

My dentist had no problem recommending them

Same here. Haven't tried them, though.
posted by scarabic at 5:45 PM on October 20, 2005

My dentist told me that the over the counter whiteners will damage your enamel a little, but not enough to worry about.
posted by orange swan at 7:23 AM on October 21, 2005

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