To maintain a dazzling white smile, you may be tempted to use tooth whitening strips. That’s fine, but only if you strictly follow the product instructions.
Tooth whitening strips contain hydrogen peroxide, which bleaches your teeth to lift stains. That’s okay in moderation, but sleeping in whitening strips leaves them on too long, drastically weakening your teeth. This could lead to discomfort, broken sleep, gum disease, and tooth loss.
Using tooth whitening strips if your teeth are stained on the surface is fine. Never keep them on longer than instructed, as attempting to speed up the whitening process can cause problems.
What Are Whitening Strips?
Whitening strips improve the whiteness of your smile. The purpose of whitening strips is to remove stubborn stains on teeth that brushing can’t lift, leaving you with a dazzling smile.
While the dental industry designs and markets whitening strips, they’re not technically dental products. Unfortunately, whitening strips only have a superficial aesthetic impact. According to Clinical Oral Investigations, whitening strips won’t fix cavities, strip color, or level out the teeth.
Whitening strips can remove staining from cigarettes, coffee, berry consumption, etc. Anybody can utilize whitening strips to improve their smile.
In addition, whitening strips can remove intrinsic staining (marks on the inside of the teeth). These are usually caused by antibiotic medications, enamel erosion due to advancing age, or excessive fluoride exposure from brushing teeth.
How Do Whitening Strips Work?
Whitening strips are sold in packs, usually of 14 or 28. A whitening strip is constructed from a flexible material backed by adhesive. Attach a strip to each row of your teeth and leave it to get to work.
Carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide are found in whitening strips. The core difference between these two peroxides is that carbamide contains acids. However, carbamide peroxide breaks down into hydrogen peroxide when wet.
Hydrogen peroxide is most critical in tooth whitening. When this chemical compound touches the teeth, it completes the bleaching process, lifting stains. If these stains are particularly stubborn, the acids found in carbamide peroxide will break them up.
Peroxides aren’t merely surface level, as they break down the outer layer of the teeth, penetrating the enamel. The bleaching process takes place in the dentin.
Here you’ll find chromogens, pigmented molecules responsible for staining the teeth. The application of bleaching peroxides acts as an indiscriminate cleaning agent.
How Long Should You Leave Whitening Strips On?
Whitening strips will only be effective if the manufacturer’s instructions are followed.
Learn how to apply the whitening strips and how long you should leave them in place. This depends on the product’s strength, as the more hydrogen peroxide in the strip, the less time it’ll need to work.
Some whitening strips only need to be worn for five minutes daily, while others need an hour to work. Low-end brands usually need to be in place longer as the chemical compounds are more diluted.
Children, pregnant women, and people with existing dental issues should avoid whitening strips.
Can I Wear Whitening Strips Overnight?
As discussed, you must check the instructions that come with the whitening strips.
The amount of time to leave the whitening strips in place varies, but it’ll never be overnight. Whitening strips aren’t intended to be worn for anything close to this long.
Most of the time, you’ll see results within a few days of applying them. It may take longer, but you should not attempt to speed up the whitening process by wearing them overnight.
You’ll unlikely forget to remove whitening strips before bed because they’ll be comparatively intrusive on your teeth. If you’re prone to such absent-mindedness, use an alarm.
What Happens If I Leave Whitening Strips on Overnight?
If you wear tooth whitening strips overnight, you’ll have disturbed sleep. If you’re not used to dozing with foreign objects in your mouth and over your teeth, this will affect your ability to rest comfortably.
As per the Dentistry Journal, using hydrogen peroxide, especially for prolonged periods, has side effects. If you leave whitening strips on overnight, you’ll damage your teeth irrecoverably.
Among the milder side effects of tooth whitening strips is sensitivity. When you first use whitening strips, they’ll feel uncomfortable; you’ll know the sensation if you’ve ever worn a retainer and had it tightened.
Your teeth will feel sore to the touch, even tender. If you’re only wearing whitening strips for the prescribed time, that’s not a concern because the discomfort will pass after 1-2 days. The longer you wear them, the more painful they’ll be.
Unfortunately, you also run the risk of gum soreness and bleeding. This, in turn, opens the door to bacterial infection and painful periodontal concerns that may require dental surgery.
Perhaps the biggest risk of wearing whitening strips overnight is the progressive destruction of your teeth. Prolonged exposure to hydrogen peroxide will lessen the strength and structure of your teeth, extracting calcium and leaving them compromised.
Alternatives to Whitening Strips
If the inability to sleep using whitening strips puts you off using them, there are alternative ways to achieve a bright, beaming smile.
There are many brands of tooth-whitening toothpaste that gradually remove discoloration. Brushing will also purge bacteria, ensuring it can’t multiply overnight and wreak havoc on your teeth.
Something similar to whitening strips is a tray-based kit. This involves placing a mouthpiece over your teeth, like a retainer. In theory, you can wear these trays overnight, but you’ll need to test for any sensitivities first. Wear a tray for at least four hours before wearing it to sleep.
A much faster and more immediate solution is undergoing laser whitening at a dental surgery, leaving your teeth gleaming in just an hour. However, it’s a significantly more expensive option, but it does mean that a professional dentist will handle the procedure.
We all like the idea of a gleaming white smile, and whitening strips can enable us to achieve that goal. Don’t allow the quest for perfectly white teeth to place your sleep at risk, though. Whitening strips shouldn’t be worn overnight and must be removed before bedtime.