Dental Hygiene,  Q&A,  Whitening

Should You Brush Your Teeth Before Using Whitening Strips?

This article is a part of our Q&A series in which we give detailed answers to our readers' questions. Have a question? Don't hesitate and send it to us to get a detailed answer!

The use of whitening strips has become a popular method for teeth whitening at home. However, there’s a common question regarding the right protocol before applying these strips: should you brush your teeth or not? This comprehensive guide will explore this topic in detail, offering the information you need to make the best decision for your oral health.

What are Whitening Strips?

Whitening strips are thin, flexible pieces of plastic coated in a whitening gel, which often contains hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. These strips are applied to the teeth for a set amount of time to brighten and whiten the enamel.

How Do They Work?

The whitening gel in the strips penetrates the enamel to reach the discolored molecules in your teeth. Oxygen molecules from the bleaching agents react with the discolored molecules, breaking the bonds that hold them together. This process helps to whiten the teeth.

To Brush or Not to Brush? – The Case Against Brushing Beforehand

Some dental professionals advise against brushing your teeth immediately before applying whitening strips.
The reasoning behind this is twofold:

  • Toothpaste Residue: Toothpaste may leave a residue that can interact with the whitening agents, possibly reducing their effectiveness.
  • Irritation: Brushing your teeth can sometimes cause your gums to become slightly irritated. Applying the whitening strips immediately after can exacerbate this irritation, due to the chemicals in the whitening gel.

The Recommended Approach

It’s generally recommended to avoid brushing your teeth immediately before applying the strips. However, you don’t want to apply them to dirty teeth either. So, what’s the best approach?

  • Brush Earlier: Consider brushing your teeth at least 30 minutes to an hour before applying the strips. This gives any irritation time to subside, and allows for the toothpaste residue to be cleared.
  • Rinse Thoroughly: Before applying the strips, rinse your mouth with water to ensure that there is no debris or residue that could hinder the whitening process.
  • Follow the Manufacturer’s Instructions: Always read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions included with the whitening strips, as there may be specific recommendations or warnings.

After Applying Whitening Strips

  • Brushing Post Application: After you’ve finished using the whitening strips and have removed them, it’s usually a good idea to brush your teeth. This will help to remove any residual gel from the teeth and gums.
  • Sensitivity Considerations: Some people may experience tooth sensitivity or gum irritation after using whitening strips. If this is the case, you may want to use a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth and avoid very hot or cold drinks for a few days.

Bottom Line

When using whitening strips, it’s best to avoid brushing your teeth immediately before application. Instead, brush 30 minutes to an hour prior, and make sure to rinse your mouth with water before applying the strips. As with any dental product, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions and consult your dentist if you have concerns about using teeth whitening products.

This Q&A series article is complete and was published on July 19, 2023, and last updated on July 19, 2023.

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