Since hitting the shelves in 2001, Crest Whitestrips have served as an over-the-counter option to cosmetic dentistry. The active ingredient in Crest Whitestrips is 10 percent hydrogen peroxide, which removes stains and lightens teeth. Crest offers several versions of the strips, all of which are applied the same way.
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Set aside a 30-minute time period for applying the Whitestrips when you will not need to talk. If you talk frequently while wearing the strips, you create extra saliva that can loosen them. Do not brush your teeth beforehand; doing so may lead to gum irritation when you use the strips.
Peel the Whitestrips pouch open; remove the strip from its plastic backing, taking care not to smear the gel on the strip itself.
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Apply the gel strip side of the Whitestrips to the teeth, aligning the top of the strip with the gum line. Then, fold the remaining portion of the strip to the teeth. Smooth the strip over the teeth repeatedly while pressing gently to make sure it is evenly and firmly applied.
Repeat the process on the rest of your teeth. If you have trouble wearing both the top and bottom strips simultaneously, start with the bottom strip.
Set a timer for when you can remove the Whitestrips. Do your best to keep the strips in place. As saliva mixes with the strips, they may start to feel puffy. Wipe any excess saliva from your mouth. Don't worry about accidentally swallowing the gel; it is nontoxic.
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After your alarm goes off, gently pull the Whitestrips off and discard. Brush, rinse or wipe away gel that remains on your teeth. According to whitestrips.com, you should begin to see results after three applications.
You can do several rounds at a time. Just make sure you wipe or rinse away the residue from the previous application.
Whitestrips come in various versions--Classic, Premium and Pro Effects--that differ in effectiveness. You should be able to apply any of the versions at least once a day. However, increased sensitivity or gum irritation may signal overuse. If the problems intensify, consult your dentist.
Rachel Nall began writing in 2003. She is a former managing editor for custom health publications, including physician journals. She has written for The Associated Press and "Jezebel," "Charleston," "Chatter" and "Reach" magazines. Nall is currently pursuing her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Tennessee.