Over the counter whitening strips have become popular items in our local grocery and drug stores. But are they bad for your teeth?

Not inherently, but there are some concerns that may make you want to steer away from them.

First, results from whitening strips are uneven. They only whiten where the strip physically touches, which can make it hard to get down to the edge by your gums. You might try to correct this by putting the strips down further, closer to and even touching your gums, which leads us to the second problem with whitening strips.

The active ingredient in teeth whitening formulas is not harmful to teeth, but it can irritate and even damage your gums. In professional whitening systems, your gums are protected, but in over-the-counter systems there’s nothing to prevent the compound from getting on and damaging your gums. Your gums can get red and even bleed as a result. They may even be vulnerable to infection.

Finally, because you’re doing the procedure on your own, there’s no way to know when to quit. If you’re not getting the results you want, it may be because of problems deeper in the enamel that may require professional treatment–either teeth whitening or concealing treatments like porcelain veneers–to fix.

For these reasons, it’s best to talk to a dentist about teeth whitening rather than trying to do it on your own.

To learn more about teeth whitening, please contact Brightleaf Cosmetic & Holistic Dentistry in Santa Monica for an appointment.