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How To Use Whitening Strips

How to use Crest 3D Whitening Strips

Getting things ready for your whitening strip treatment.

Cleaning your teeth.

In the directions for all of the products listed above, Crest® specifically states that they will stay in place better if you DO NOT brush your teeth before applying them.

As an additional aid, we’ve seen several consumer product reviews where the poster stated that they got better adhesion by removing excess saliva from their teeth first (by patting them dry with a towel).

Removing the Crest 3D whitening strips from their packaging.

  • Whitestrips® come packaged in pairs (one upper and one lower) in individual pouches.
  • The two strips in each pouch are used for one treatment session and then discarded.


Simply tear open the pouch and remove the thin plastic carrier on which the whitening strips have been affixed. The strip for the upper teeth is the larger one of the two.

The side of the whitening strip that faces its plastic carrier is the side that contains the tooth whitener and is the side that needs to be placed against the surface of your teeth.

Don’t peal a strip off until you’re ready to apply it.

Even the sturdier forms of Crest 3D Whitening strips are relatively flimsy items and generally tricky to handle. So before you peal one off its plastic carrier, make sure that you are all set and ready to go.

  • The newer generations of Crest 3D whitening strips (Advanced Seal®, FlexFit®) are quite sticky.Be extra careful that you don’t fold them over on themselves. If you do, you’ll make a mess of things trying to straighten them back out.
  • With the flimsier, older-design products (Vivid, Gentle Routine, Stain Shield), it’s less likely that you’ll seriously damage any strips.But it is easy enough to crinkle them up. And straightening them back out will take a bit of work.

In general, as you peel the strip off it’s carrier just be as careful as you can. You don’t want to do anything that will make you have to touch or otherwise disturb the side of the strip that contains the whitener any more than you absolutely have to.

Also, use dry fingers. You don’t want excess moisture to get on the whitener (and dilute it), or easily spread onto your fingers.

How to place your Crest 3D Whitening strips.

Note: It’s the gel (coated, sticky) side of the strip that’s placed against your teeth. This is the side of the strip that was face down on the plastic carrier.

The strips need to be aligned properly.

When placing Crest 3D Whitening Strips, you should align it with your gum line. Of course, its straight edge and your scolloped gum line won’t match up exactly, so just do the best that you can.

Make sure to cover your teeth.

The idea is to maximize the amount of tooth surface that the strip covers over. Any portion of a tooth that lies beyond the edge of the whitening strip won’t receive the same exposure to the whitener.

And yes, this type of positioning means that the strip will lie over small portions of your gums where they come up in between your teeth.


With the thinner, less adherent type of strip, even after you’ve placed one on your teeth you’ll still be able to move it around somewhat to reposition it.

Advanced Seal® and FlexFit® products are much stickier. If you position one incorrectly, you can peal it back off. But you’ll feel the strong tug, and wonder how much whitener you’re leaving behind as you do. So it’s nice if you can get things right the first time.

Once positioned, press the Crest 3D Whitening Strips into place.

Once you have the whitening strip positioned properly, gently press on it so to secure it in place and maximize its contact with each tooth’s surface. Then, fold the remainder of the strip back behind the biting edge of your teeth.


Now that the first strip is in place, all you have to do is repeat the same process on your other arch (upper/lower teeth).

It doesn’t really matter which arch you do first. But you’ll probably find it easier to start with the lower, and do the upper second.

Wash your hands after handling Crest 3D Whitening Strips.

The bleaching agent that’s applied to whitening strips is typically hydrogen peroxide. And it has the potential to react with any and all surfaces that it comes into contact with, not just your teeth.

Wash your hands in every case.

There is no question. You will get some of the strip’s whitener on your fingers during the application process, so wash them once you’re finished.

Signs and symptoms.

If you don’t, you may notice that your fingers start to tingle, or maybe even burn. That’s the peroxide reacting with your skin. It may even cause white patches to form. In any case, just wash your fingers off and you should be fine.

More serious or permanent complications might occur if you inadvertently touch your eyes, pets, furniture or clothing with your contaminated fingers. So be careful and always wash your hands after handling whitening strips or the pouch they came in.

Performing treatments using Crest 3D Whitening strips.

How long should you leave your strips on?

Once you have your strips positioned, your bleaching session has begun. So, take a look at your clock and start timing.

!! The recommended treatment time varies with each Whitestrips® product.

While the way you use all Crest 3D Whitening Strips is essentially the same, the application times for the various product versions are entirely different. As you can see in the table below, times range from 5 minutes all of the way up to 2 hours.

A part of this difference is due to the fact that whitening strip products can vary substantially in the concentration of peroxide that their whitener contains. And that means staying within your product’s guidelines is not just a “best results” but also a safety and side effects issue too.

In all cases, you must refer to the instructions that have come with your specific product for directions about how long and how often your strips should be worn.

Application times for different Whitestrips® products.

5 minutes, once a day strips.

Crest 3D White Whitestrips® Gentle Routine Teeth
Crest 3D White Whitestrips® Stain Shield


30 minutes, once a day strips.

Crest 3D White Luxe Whitestrips® Glamorous White
Crest 3D White Whitestrips® Professional Effects
Crest 3D White Whitestrips® Advanced Vivid
Crest 3D White Whitestrips® Vivid
Crest 3D White Supreme®  (Preferably worn with mouth-tray)

1 hour, once a day strips.

Crest 3D White Luxe Whitestrips® Supreme Flexfit
Crest 3D White Whitestrips® 1 Hour Express

2 hours, once a day strips.

Crest 3D White Whitestrips® Intensive Professional Effects

You can always wear your strips for less time.

The treatment times stated above are the maximum duration your strips should be left on. You can always wear your strips less. For example, you might do so as a way of managing side effects.

The trade-off is that you’ll get less whitening effect per strip. And that means to reach the same whitening endpoint, you’ll have to purchase additional product.

Number of treatment sessions.

The number of applications per day shown above seem to be Crests® standard recommendation for use. Information on their website states that their 3D White Whitestrips® Vivid, Advanced Vivid, and Professional Effects products can be use up to twice a day (30 minute application time each session).

This same page also states that Crest 3D Whitening Strips Stain Shield and Gentle Routine are only once-a-day products. We don’t have information on other types of Whitestrips®. We discuss this topic in greater detail below.

What activities can you do while performing your treatments?

You can do pretty much anything you want while your strips are in place, so long as it doesn’t dislodge them. And if you chosen one of the Advanced Seal® or FlexFix® style of strips, you may not be limited much at all.

  • For obvious reasons, you shouldn’t smoke or eat while performing treatments. Drinking doesn’t make a good choice either. Even if the strips stay in place, the liquid might dilute the whitener to some extent.
  • Wearing your strips during times when you’ll need to do a lot of speaking, especially in public, might be problematic. You’ll just have to experiment.

No matter what you decide to do, it’s a good idea to check your strips every once in a while to make sure that they are still in place. And, for reasons discussed previously, if you do find that you need to touch your whitening strips, make sure that you rinse your fingers off afterward.

Excessive salivation can be a nuisance.

Any time you place something in your mouth, your body will respond by increasing its flow of saliva. (Your mouth gets confused, it anticipates that the item is food.)

Wearing whitening strips is no exception to this rule, and the increase in saliva can be a nuisance. The build up of liquid tends to make treatments a bit yucky. It can also make it difficult to keep the less adherent style of strips in place (especially the lower ones).

What can you do?

There aren’t a lot of solutions for this problem. But the good new is that your response should tend to diminish over time.

Focusing on some other task (rather than the fact that you have strips in your mouth) can help to make things more tolerable. So, maybe your treatment time would also be a good time to balance your checkbook, wash the dishes or mow the yard.

Terminating a bleaching session.

Removing Crest 3D whitening strips.

At the end of its allotted time period, a treatment session is terminated simply by removing your whitening strips. And that’s easy enough to do, just peal them off. (With the Advanced Seal® and FlexFix® strips you may be surprised by how firmly they’re anchored.)

You’ll want to discard your used strips with some care. It’s likely that at least some of the hydrogen peroxide whitener (bleaching agent) on them is not totally depleted.

  • Dispose of your strips where they are unlikely to come into contact with anything that they might irritate, mar, stain or blemish. (This includes you, other people, pets and objects.)
  • Always wash your hands after handling teeth whitening strips.

Clean your teeth and gums.

Once your whitening strips have been removed you should rinse, wipe or brush away any whitener residue that remains on your teeth or gums.

  • When doing this you may notice that you experience some post-treatment sensitivity. If so, making sure the water you use is at least lukewarm will help.
  • Wash off your fingers, toothbrush, etc… after you’ve finished cleaning.

Treatment frequency.

Multiple applications.

As mentioned above, information on Crest®’s website states that their Crest 3D Whitening Strips Vivid, Advanced Vivid, and Professional Effects products can be use up to twice daily, 30 minutes application time each session.

The advantage of performing more than one session per day is simply that your whitening process will occur more rapidly. The tradeoff is if you do, whitening side effects are more likely to occur.

Spreading your sessions out can help to minimize side effects.

There can be good reason for you not to perform multiple whitening treatments each day, or even treatments on consecutive days (when allowed by your product).

A person’s potential to experience whitening side effects correlates directly with their exposure to the whitener within a specified time frame. As a way of helping to minimize or control side effects, allowing extra time between sessions can be beneficial.

Is it OK to wear teeth whitening strips longer than their directions state?

It’s never a good idea to use any tooth whitening product in a manner that lies outside the guidelines specified in its directions, teeth whitening strips included.

  • An interesting feature of whitening strips is that it’s the manufacture that dispenses the quantity of whitener, not the end-user.
  • That implies that through testing, they have determined what amount of whitener is required to remain effective for the duration of the recommended treatment time, yet not be likely to create side effects.

So, if you extend the duration of your treatments you are unlikely to gain any overwhelming whitening benefit (because the whitener tends to become depleted during the recommended application time). But you will be placing yourself at somewhat greater risk (although probably minimally) for experiencing side effects (primarily tooth or gum sensitivity).

Whitening difficulties.

White spots after treatments.

It’s not uncommon that a person will notice white areas or spots on their teeth immediately after removing their strips. Crest® states that these spots are not a cause for alarm and will resolve on their own after a few hours.

Uneven whitening.

Some people may notice that their treatments have had the effect where some of their teeth or tooth areas have started to lighten more so than others.

Unfortunately there can be a number of factors involved when this type of situation occurs. And this points out one of the main disadvantages of using an at-home method where no expertise or supervision from a dentist is involved.

Possible solutions.

  • As a first check, you should make sure that all of your teeth are covered over by and have the same degree of intimate contact with the strip during your treatments.
  • Assuming there aren’t any overlooked dental restorations involved, the problem might be as simple as certain teeth or areas of staining are slower to respond than others. If so, over time the issue should tend to resolve itself.
  • If problems persist, you might halt your bleaching efforts and search for a way to just selectively treat the stubborn teeth to see if they will “catch up.” As possibilities, you might cut up a strip and apply just pieces of it. Or consider using a whitening pen.

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