Do Whitening Strips Work on Crooked Teeth? All You Need to Know about Teeth Whitening with Strips

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Do Whitening Strips Work on Crooked Teeth? Can You Eat Right After Whitening Strips? Why Are Whitening Strips Not Working? If you find yourself asking these questions, you’re not alone. Welcome to our in-depth exploration of the world of whitening strips, where we tackle the most frequently asked questions head-on. 

In this article, we’ll navigate the ins and outs of these popular dental tools, providing you with the knowledge and confidence to enhance your smile. Join us as we demystify the nuances of achieving that coveted bright smile with whitening strips. Let’s dive into the answers you’ve been seeking and discover the best ways to achieve a radiant, healthy smile!

Do Whitening Strips Work on Crooked Teeth?

Whitening strips can be effective at brightening smiles even for those with crooked or misaligned teeth. The key is taking the time to properly mold and manipulate the strips around the natural contours of each tooth’s surface. Though formulated to adhere well, gently pressing the strips into any spaces or cracks between twisted teeth allows full contact and coverage of the whitening gel. Slowly guiding the strips from the middle front teeth outward one by one ensures they wrap around off-center ones for the most even results.

Users with minor to moderate crookedness or spacing report success brightening their uneven smiles with popular strips like Crest WhiteStrips through this adapted application technique. As long as the strips can physically mold into the natural alignment reasonably well, coverage of the 8-10 front top and bottom teeth is achievable. Perfectly straight Hollywood smiles are not necessary to lift stains, just patience and care when laying the strips. While effectiveness may decrease for highly irregular spacing or protruding teeth, those with reasonable crowding should brighten well with attentive use.

Can You Drink with Whitening Strips on?

It is not recommended to drink while wearing whitening strips. Consuming beverages can disrupt the effectiveness of the whitening process by causing the strips to move or slip, preventing the whitening agent from maintaining consistent contact with the teeth. Additionally, certain drinks, especially those that are hot, cold, or colored (like coffee, tea, or red wine), can interfere with the whitening process or even stain the teeth, counteracting the purpose of the strips. For optimal results, it’s best to avoid drinking anything during the whitening session and for a short time afterward to allow the treatment to work effectively.

Worth Knowing

The 2023 survey by Realself revealed that nearly half of the participants have undergone cosmetic dental procedures.

Can You Drink Water with White Strips on?

While it’s not recommended to drink beverages while wearing whitening strips, as they can disrupt the effectiveness of the treatment, drinking water is generally considered safe. Unlike other drinks that may stain or interfere with the whitening agent, water does not pose this risk. However, caution is still advised when drinking water during the whitening process. Excessive movement of the mouth or lips might cause the strips to shift, potentially reducing their effectiveness. Therefore, while water is a safer option compared to other drinks, it’s best to minimize any drinking during the treatment to ensure optimal contact between the whitening agent and the teeth.

Can You Eat Right After Whitening Strips?

It is advisable to wait a while before eating after using whitening strips. This precaution is taken to maximize the effectiveness of the whitening treatment. Eating immediately after the treatment can expose the freshly treated teeth to food particles and potential stains, which might reduce the efficacy of the whitening process. Additionally, some foods, particularly those that are acidic or strongly colored, can impact the sensitivity of your teeth or even re-stain them shortly after whitening. To ensure the best results from your whitening strips, it’s recommended to wait at least 30 minutes to an hour before consuming any food, giving your teeth some time to settle and the whitening agent to fully act.

See also: Moon Whitening Device – Review

Can You Swallow with Teeth Whitening Strips?

Yes, you can swallow your saliva normally while using teeth whitening strips. However, it’s important to avoid swallowing the whitening gel itself. While the amount of gel on whitening strips is typically small and swallowing a tiny amount accidentally is unlikely to cause harm, ingesting larger quantities should be avoided. The chemicals in the gel are not intended for ingestion and could potentially cause stomach upset or other internal issues if consumed in significant amounts.

When using whitening strips, try to keep your saliva production to a minimum and swallow gently to reduce the likelihood of the strips moving out of place. If you find yourself producing a lot of saliva or if the taste of the gel is causing discomfort, it may be helpful to spit gently into a tissue or sink.

Does Saliva Ruin Teeth Whitening Strips?

Saliva can affect the effectiveness of teeth whitening strips, though it doesn’t necessarily ruin them. When whitening strips are applied, they need to adhere closely to the teeth to allow the whitening agent to work effectively on the enamel. However, excessive saliva can create several issues. It can interfere with the adhesion of the strips, making them less likely to stick properly and cover the teeth uniformly. This can lead to the strips slipping or not contacting the tooth surface fully. Additionally, saliva can dilute the whitening gel present on the strips. The more the gel is diluted, the less potent it becomes, potentially reducing the overall effectiveness of the whitening process. Furthermore, if there is a lot of saliva, it might cause the strips to move out of their intended position, resulting in uneven whitening.

To minimize these effects, it’s best to keep your mouth as dry as possible while applying the strips, ensuring they adhere well and stay in place. Following the instructions provided with the whitening strips is crucial for achieving the best results. If excessive saliva is a consistent problem, it may be worth considering other whitening methods.

Can You Leave Teeth Whitening Strips Overnight?

Leaving teeth whitening strips on overnight is generally not recommended unless the product is specifically designed for extended use. Most conventional whitening strips are intended for shorter durations, typically ranging from 20 minutes to an hour. Keeping them on for an extended period, such as overnight, can increase the risk of tooth sensitivity or gum irritation due to prolonged exposure to the whitening agent. It’s crucial to follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding the duration of use. If overnight whitening is desired, it’s better to opt for products specifically formulated for longer wear times, which are designed to minimize potential side effects while effectively whitening the teeth.

What Happens if You Leave Whitening Strips on Overnight?

Leaving whitening strips on overnight, contrary to their intended use, can lead to several potential issues. Prolonged exposure to the whitening agent, typically hydrogen peroxide, can increase the risk of tooth sensitivity and gum irritation. This extended contact can be too harsh for the enamel and soft tissues in the mouth, leading to discomfort or even damage. Additionally, over-whitening can result in uneven coloration or a blotchy appearance of the teeth. It’s important to adhere to the recommended usage instructions provided by the manufacturer to avoid these adverse effects.

See also: Spotlight Teeth Whitening Strips – Review

Can I Use Whitening Strips with Braces?

Using whitening strips while wearing braces is generally not advised due to several considerations. The primary concern is the uneven whitening effect that can occur. Braces cover certain areas of the teeth, which means that the whitening agent in the strips can’t reach these spots. Consequently, when the braces are eventually removed, there could be noticeable color differences on each tooth, with the areas under the braces appearing darker than the rest of the tooth.

Additionally, the mechanics of braces present another issue. The adhesive used on whitening strips might react adversely with the orthodontic glue that holds the brackets to the teeth. This interaction could potentially weaken the bond of the brackets or even leave residue on the braces, leading to complications in orthodontic treatment.

Moreover, the whitening agents in the strips could potentially irritate the gums or the soft tissues in the mouth, which might already be sensitive due to the braces. This increased sensitivity and potential for irritation make the use of whitening strips less ideal for individuals with braces.

See also: Can I Use Whitening Strips with Braces? Facts and Myths about Teeth Whitening with Braces

Worth Knowing

The research published in the Dental Research Journal shows that while teeth whitening treatments are effective during orthodontic care, there’s a noticeable distinction in the degree of whitening between the enamel under orthodontic brackets and the exposed areas of the teeth.

Can I Put My Retainer in After Using Whitening Strips?

Before using whitening strips, especially if you wear a retainer, it’s crucial to consult with your orthodontist. They can provide personalized advice on whether it’s safe for you to use whitening strips considering your dental history and the type of retainer you have. 

If you get the go-ahead to use whitening strips, typically, you can put your retainer back in after the treatment. However, it’s advisable to wait for about 30 minutes to an hour after removing the strips before reinserting your retainer. This allows time for the whitening agents to fully act on your teeth and for any sensitivity or discomfort in your gums to subside. Rinsing your mouth and the retainer before reinserting it can help remove any residual whitening gel, reducing the risk of irritation and ensuring the effectiveness of the whitening process.

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Source: Grand View Research

Can You Use Whitening Strips (e.g. Crest White Strips) While Pregnant?

Most dentists recommend avoiding teeth whitening treatments, including whitening strips, during pregnancy. The safety of strip ingredients like hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide is not yet fully proven for developing babies.

While extremely low quantities of whitening agents likely pose little risk, strips remain in direct contact with the bloodstream through gums and tissue. Scientists cannot guarantee these small amounts don’t cross over the placenta to impact fetal development in any capacity potentially. Clinical evidence is currently lacking.

Until safety for pregnancy is conclusively established, cautious mothers are wise to postpone all teeth whitening. At a minimum, expectant women should consult their doctor and consider risks versus rewards before moving forward with whitening strip use. Many find that delaying aesthetic dental procedures until after birth is the most prudent approach absent evidence of absolute safety.

Can You Use Whitening Strips (e.g. Crest White Strips) While Breastfeeding?

The use of whitening strips, such as Crest White Strips, while breastfeeding is a topic that requires careful consideration. Generally, there is limited research on the effects of teeth-whitening products on nursing mothers and their infants. The primary concern is whether the active ingredients in these products, like hydrogen peroxide, can be transferred through breast milk. While these ingredients are generally considered safe for dental treatments, the lack of conclusive evidence regarding their safety for breastfeeding mothers suggests caution.

Before using whitening strips or any similar products while breastfeeding, it is highly recommended to consult with your healthcare provider or dentist. They can offer personalized advice based on your specific situation and the safety of such products for you and your baby. In many cases, healthcare professionals might suggest delaying cosmetic dental treatments until after the breastfeeding period or may recommend alternative, milder methods of teeth whitening that are considered safer during this time.

Worth Knowing

Teeth whitening is the most popular dental procedure in the U.S., accounting for 32% of in-office practice.

Why Are Whitening Strips Not Working?

Whitening strips may not work effectively for several reasons:

  • Severe or Deep Stains: Whitening strips are generally more effective on surface stains. Deep, intrinsic stains caused by medications, trauma, or certain foods and drinks might not respond well to these products.
  • Frequent Consumption of Staining Substances: Regular consumption of coffee, tea, red wine, or tobacco can counteract the whitening effects, leading to less noticeable results.
  • Incorrect Application: Not following the instructions properly, such as not leaving the strips on long enough, or not applying them correctly, can affect their effectiveness.
  • Type of Discoloration: Whitening strips work best on yellowish stains. Discoloration that is brownish or grayish might not respond well.
  • Existing Dental Work: Whitening strips cannot change the color of crowns, veneers, fillings, or dentures. If your natural teeth are a different color than these restorations, the result may be uneven whitening.
  • Underlying Dental Issues: Conditions like tooth decay or gum disease can affect the success of whitening. It’s important to address these issues before attempting cosmetic whitening.

If whitening strips aren’t working for you, it might be beneficial to consult a dentist. They can provide insights into the cause of your tooth discoloration and recommend more effective treatments, which could include professional whitening procedures.

See also: Oil Pulling with Braces

Why Do Whitening Strips Leave White Spots?

When white spots appear on teeth after using whitening strips, it’s often due to temporary dehydration of the enamel. This is the most common cause and happens because the whitening process can draw moisture out of the enamel, leading to these temporary white spots. These spots are usually not permanent and tend to fade away as the enamel rehydrates over a few hours, returning to its normal color.

In some instances, the appearance of white spots might also be highlighting pre-existing dental conditions like fluorosis or decalcification. These are areas where the enamel is already weaker or has some erosion. After whitening, as the rest of the tooth becomes lighter, these pre-existing spots can become more visible.

Another reason for the occurrence of white spots could be the uneven application or distribution of the whitening agent. If the gel on the whitening strip isn’t spread evenly, or if the strip doesn’t adhere properly to the entire tooth surface, it can result in an uneven whitening effect. This might leave certain areas, such as the spots, appearing whiter compared to the rest of the tooth.

If you notice that the white spots persist or are concerned about their appearance, it’s important to consult with a dentist. They can evaluate the condition of your enamel and advise whether whitening treatments are suitable for you or if other dental interventions are necessary to address any underlying issues with your teeth.

Is It Normal for Whitening Strips to Hurt?

It’s not uncommon for some people to experience discomfort or sensitivity when using whitening strips, although they shouldn’t cause outright pain. This sensitivity typically arises due to the whitening agents in the strips, such as hydrogen peroxide, which can irritate the teeth or gums for some users. Factors like pre-existing dental conditions, including gum recession, tooth decay, or sensitive teeth, can increase the likelihood of discomfort during whitening treatments.

Sensitivity or mild discomfort is usually temporary and should subside once the treatment is complete or shortly thereafter. However, if you experience significant pain or prolonged sensitivity, it’s important to stop using the strips and consult a dentist. They can determine the cause of the pain and suggest alternative treatments or methods to reduce sensitivity, ensuring that your teeth whitening process is both effective and comfortable.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Sleep in Whitening Strips?

No, it’s not recommended to sleep in whitening strips. Whitening strips are designed to be used for a specific duration, typically ranging from 20 minutes to an hour, as per the product’s instructions. Sleeping with them can lead to overexposure to the whitening agents, which may increase the risk of tooth sensitivity and gum irritation. For safe and effective use, it’s best to follow the recommended time guidelines provided with the whitening strips.

Is It Bad to Sleep with Whitening Strips?

Yes, sleeping with whitening strips is not advisable. Leaving them on for longer than the recommended duration can lead to overexposure to the whitening agents, increasing the risk of tooth sensitivity and gum irritation. It’s important to adhere to the specified usage time for safe and effective teeth whitening.

What Happens If You Fall Asleep with White Strips on?

Falling asleep with whitening strips on can lead to overexposure to the whitening agent, potentially causing increased tooth sensitivity and gum irritation. Extended contact with the whitening gel may also unevenly bleach the teeth or irritate the soft tissues in the mouth.

Is It Safe to Use Crest White Strips While Pregnant?

It’s best to consult with a healthcare provider before using Crest White Strips or any whitening products during pregnancy. The safety of teeth whitening during pregnancy isn’t conclusively established, and a healthcare professional can provide personalized advice based on individual health circumstances.


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Irusa, K., Abd Alrahaem, I., Nguyen Ngoc, C., Donovan, T., Tooth whitening procedures: A narrative review; Dentistry Review, 2022. DOI: 10.1016/j.dentre.2022.100055. Available online at:

Slack, M. E., Swift Jr, E. J., Rossouw, E. P., Ceib Phillips, Tooth whitening in the orthodontic practice: a survey of orthodontists; J Orthod Dentofacial Orthop, 2013. DOI: 10.1016/j.ajodo.2012.06.017. Available online at:

Naidu, A. S., Bennani, V., Brunton, J., Brunton, P., Over-the-counter tooth whitening agents: A review of the literature. Braz Dent J, 2020; DOI: 31(3):221-35.

Sardarian, A., Malekpour, B., Roshan, A., Danaei, S. M., Bleaching during orthodontic treatment and its effect on bracket bond strength; Dent Res J (Isfahan), 2019. Available online at:

Iza Wojnarowski

Content contributor

Iza is a dedicated content contributor for Toothific. Having worn braces twice and currently using Invisalign to correct a mild overbite, Iza brings a unique perspective to her writing. She spends her time staying updated on the latest dental trends and treatments, ensuring her readers have the most current information for their dental care needs.

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