During the last few years the public has become more and more fixated on displaying a mouthful of shining, white teeth when they smile. Watching old movies and TV shows, none of the actors or celebrities had a gleaming, pearly white smile then, but now everyone in the limelight has picture perfect teeth.

One of the easiest methods of creating a lustrous, white smile is by using teeth whitening strips. As with all products there is a variety of manufacturers claiming their product is best, so it will be trial and error to find a brand that is best for you. I have tried several different ones and I have to say that I am a great believer in the motto, “ you only get what you pay for.” I have used some of the cheaper products, and not only do they not stick to the teeth for the full processing time, but the difference after a full treatment is hardly noticeable.

Some stores and pharmacies sell their own brand, which are made for them by well known dental companies, so trying the top of the line of their brand is a good place to start. As with most advertised products, the results from one treatment is not as good as publicized, but depending on the original color of the teeth and with repeated treatments, you will begin to notice a difference.

Teeth whitening strips are thin and flexible and generally come in a pack of 28. Each pack contains a longer strip for the upper teeth and a shorter one for the lower set. Strips are self adhesive, so with the mouth continually producing saliva, I have found the best way to apply them is to blot the teeth back and front with kitchen paper, thus allowing the strips better adherence. Peel the strip from the cellophane backing and place it along the gum line before tucking the overlapping part toward the underside of the teeth.

Strips are coated with a whitening gel that helps remove accumulated stains below the teeth’s enamel surface and manufacturers recommend leaving them on for 30 minutes, but I have left them on longer with no detrimental effects. During this processing time, I exercise, do dishes or go about my usual routine at home. By the time the 30 minute waiting period is up, the strips will have turned milky white and they are ready to be removed. Some people like to brush their teeth immediately, but this is not necessary. You can rinse your mouth several times with water, run your tongue over your teeth and they should feel squeaky clean and have a different luster.

Teeth whitening strips are mostly safe to use, however first check that the ones you are considering using don’t contain chlorine dioxide, which is used to sanitize swimming pools. This is harmful to the teeth’s enamel and will slowly destroy it. To create my desired effect, I use whitening strips three or four times a year and buy the most expensive kit sold by a well known dental company. 30 minutes a day is a small sacrifice for sparkling pearly whites.