Do Teeth Whitening Strips Work?

Do Teeth Whitening Strips Work?

Teeth whitening strips are an over-the-counter alternative to professional teeth whitening. While these strips can whiten teeth if applied according to the package directions, they are less effective than professional methods and may cause gum irritation and tooth sensitivity.

How Teeth Whitening Strips Work

Teeth whitening strips generally have the same active ingredients as professional whitening gels but in lower concentrations. The most common active ingredient is carbamide peroxide, which breaks down into hydrogen peroxide when it contacts water. Carbamide peroxide penetrates below the outermost enamel layer of the tooth and into the dentin, where it breaks down pigment molecules.

Typically, the manufacturer directs you to wear over-the-counter strips twice daily for two weeks. Each whitening session takes about half an hour.

You may start to notice results after a few days. The strips can whiten your teeth by one or two shades.

Over-the-Counter vs. Professional Whitening


Over-the-counter strips may cause more tooth sensitivity and gum irritation than professional methods, especially if you use them more often than the package directions recommend.

Some over-the-counter strips contain too much hydrogen peroxide. These strips can cause structural enamel damage and demineralization. Under a dentist's supervision, you are less likely to encounter this problem.


Teeth whitening strips whiten your teeth by one or two shades at a time. In contrast, professional whitening can provide stunning results in just one or two sessions, with five to six shades of color change.

Longer Lasting

If you receive professional teeth whitening, the effects could last as long as one to three years. You may receive touch-up trays with at-home whitening gel to keep your smile bright.


You may believe that over-the-counter strips are more affordable than professional whitening. When you add up the cost of buying a teeth whitening kit every few weeks compared to the long-lasting effects of professional whitening, you may change your mind.

Keeping Your Smile Bright

No matter which teeth whitening method you choose, your oral care habits will make a difference in how long the treatment lasts. Ensure that you brush and floss as your dentist recommends. Attend all cleaning appointments with your dentist.

Avoid highly pigmented foods and beverages like coffee, tea, cola, and red wine in the days following your whitening session. You may want to avoid them in the long term to prolong the effects of teeth whitening.

Deciding How to Whiten Your Teeth

Most over-the-counter teeth whitening strips work when used carefully, but professional whitening produces more noticeable, longer-lasting results. If you want to whiten your teeth comfortably and without impacting your oral health, you may want to consider professional treatment.

Call Smiles On The Upper Westside

Teeth whitening can be an excellent way to improve your self-confidence and brighten your smile. If you are unhappy with the appearance of your teeth and want to make a lasting change, call Smiles on the Upper Westside at 212-222-5225. We can help you decide which teeth whitening method is best for you.