Teeth-whitening strips - Disadvantages / Are they harmful?

Are whitening strips bad for your teeth?

No, using strips, like Crest Whitestrips, hasn't been shown to be harmful to teeth.

Clinical research and trials (not to mention over a decade of use by the general public) have not shown any significant long-term or irreversible adverse effects to teeth, gums or tooth nerve tissue (although side effects can and do occur).

Duschner (2006) evaluated the effects of using 6% hydrogen-peroxide Crest Whitestrips on tooth dentin and enamel and found that they caused no deleterious effects. (Use this same link to access the other references we mention on this page.)
[Crest Whitestrips is a registered trademark of the Proctor & Gamble Company.]

Disadvantages of using teeth-whitening strips.

Teeth whitening strips can only be used to whiten front teeth.

A) They don't whiten back teeth.

One disadvantage of using whitening strips is that they can only be used to treat your front teeth.

This issue won't be a problem for most people. But in the case where a person has a really broad smile, the fact that their front teeth have been lightened and their back ones have not may create a situation where their smile simply doesn't as nice as it could.

Almost everyone can expect that a whitening strip product will at least reach from their left to right eyetooth. But how much further beyond will simply depend on the size of their teeth. Crest Whitestrips Supreme has been designed with a longer length than other Whitestrips products.

B) Using whitening strips can be difficult.

Another disadvantage of performing whitening treatments with strips is that they can be tedious to deal with.

  • They are sticky and relatively flimsy and therefore difficult to manipulate and easy to spoil.
  • When applying them you must touch them. This may cause skin irritation. Or you may inadvertently transfer whitener to other objects, which may damage them.
  • During treatment, strips must be monitored make sure that they are still in place.

For some people, using whitening strips may seem more of a struggle than just using bleaching trays. In fact, da Costa (2012), when studying 24 subjects, found that over 3/4ths preferred tray whitening to the use of whitening strips.

Different strips have different characteristics.

It's both a strip's shape and the tackiness of its whitener that helps to hold it in place. And the design and formulation used with different products does vary. This can make some easier for some people to use than others.

If you've used strips in the past but had difficulties, the general trend nowadays (with newer versions of products) seems to be the use of a much tackier, almost adhesive-like, whitener.

C) Other at-home approaches may be more effective.

Not all published research has found whitening strips to be the most effective type of at-home system, although many (and probably most) studies have.

If this disadvantage does exist, it's only one of comparative effectiveness and not an implication that teeth whitening strips don't work. They do.

D) The whitening effect will fade.

This point isn't a disadvantage that's just unique to the use of strips. The whitening effect created by any and all systems will tend to fade over time. This is usually more of an inconvenience than a big problem.

Gerlach (2004) evaluated the use of two Whitestrips products and found no significant color relapse after 6 months. These findings are on par with those results that have been reported for tray whitening.

Touch-up treatment is easy with strips.

The individual packaging that's used with whitening strips makes them very convenient for periodic touch-up work. Just use the few that you need out of the box, then save the rest for the next time some minor re-treatment is needed. (For long-term storage, keep them in your refrigerator.)

E) There's no professional supervision.

Once again, this isn't a criticism that's unique to just whitening strips. All over-the-counter systems suffer from the disadvantage that their dentist isn't always involved with their use.

But just because you can perform treatments entirely on your own doesn't mean that you should. It's always the right choice to discuss your whitening plans with your dentist, before you begin.

Whitening Strips (Whitestrips®)

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