In today's society, the emphasis on one's appearance is unavoidable. Consumers receive messages on a daily basis regarding products to help them lose weight, change their skin's appearance, or improve the whiteness of their teeth. Tooth whitening in particular has seen a dramatic increase in popularity over the years, due to the reasonable price of the products and the increase in public demand.
With the overabundance of consumer choices available, it might prove a challenge to find the best whitening system on the market. The results of a study that compared two similar whitening strips used by teens were published in the March/April 2006 issue of
General Dentistry, the Academy of General Dentistry's (AGD) clinical, peer-reviewed journal.
"There is an intense interest in cosmetics and improved appearance by baby boomers and Generation Xers," says Henry Finger, DDS, FAGD, AGD spokesperson. "Teens especially want to improve their appearance because of peer pressure, publications they read, and their role models."
"Whitening is popular to teenagers merely because they are esthetic-conscious," says Kevin Donly, DDS, MS, lead author of the study. Since most clinical studies evaluate the effects of tooth whitening products among adult subjects, this study was an opportunity to examine the effects on a different population.
In his report, Dr. Donly studied and compared two groups of teenagers who used whitening strips. One group used a 10 percent hydrogen peroxide whitening strip and the other group used a 6.5 percent hydrogen peroxide strip that had a thicker gel layer. The patients used the strips for 44 consecutive days, for 22 days on the upper teeth followed by 22 days on the lower teeth.
Participants in the study used the strips for 30 minutes twice daily. Use of the strips resulted in significant color improvement for yellowness and lightness/brightness. With the whitening strip systems, the most common complaints were tooth sensitivity and oral irritation, both of which subsided at the end of treatment.
"To prepare their mouths for whitening, patients should maintain good oral health," adds Dr. Donly. "Brushing right before is not recommended, as it might cause abrasion and sensitivity."
What you should know before whitening:
•Do not eat or drink anything after whitening that might cause a stain (coffee, tea, etc.).
•Existing crowns or fillings will not respond to the whitening agent.
•Strips do not whiten entire arches. They only cover the front teeth.
•Do not smoke or chew tobacco after using whitening products.
•Patients are not advised to use whitening products if they have decay,
periodontal disease, or hypersensitivity.
•Know the condition of your teeth and oral tissues. A thorough examination and cleaning from a general dentist is recommended before using whitening products.
Updated: January 2012