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COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – A pearly white smile is a standard of beauty in America.

Years of coffee, cola and cigarettes can leave your choppers with unsightly stains.

White strips promise to deliver a blinding smile, after anywhere from 5 to 10 applications.

Is it too good to be true?

We headed to the dentist.

A well polished set of teeth, can do wonders for your confidence, but time has a way of dulling your ivories.

If you find off-white a turn-off, help is available.

Dr. David Curtis is a pediatric dentist, who practices in Columbus.

He says, ” They are essentially little plastic or polyethylene strips that have hydrogen peroxide on them. Regardless of what kind of bleaching you have done, its essentially all the same thing. It’s a certain percentage of hydrogen peroxide that’s put on the teeth for a certain amount of time.”

Over the counter, you can get strips with 5% hydrogen peroxide.

With a prescription, you can buy strips that are four times as powerful, but for the super strong stuff, you’ll need a dentist’s help.

Dr. Curtis explains, ” Forty percent hydrogen peroxide is fairly caustic. It can burn your skin. It can burn your tissue, and so it has to be done in the hands of a professional.”

The weaker the strips, the more applications you’ll need.

A small box of white strips runs about 30 dollars.

You’ll probably need 2 boxes to achieve the desired result.

But can you bleach your teeth right out of your head?

Dr. Curtis advises, ” The low concentration is very safe. There is essentially no risk. It can’t hurt anything.”

Still, some discomfort is common.

Dr. Curtis says, ” Most people will express some sensitivity, from their teeth, while they are using the strips, but this is a transient effect. It goes away after you stop doing the bleaching.”

If the pain is too much, stop bleaching.

Dr. Curtis does not recommend bleaching primary or “baby” teeth either.

Dr. Curtis says, ” I’m typically seeing older teenagers, post orthodontic patients are typically asking for bleaching.”

So if you want whiter teeth, give strips a try.

Your fellow Americans are sure to approve.

Dr. Curtis explains, ” In no other culture do we value the white smile like we do here in the United States.”

I asked,” What do you think that says about us?”

Dr. Curtis responded, ” I don’t know, I’ll stay away from that one.”

Whitening results can last up to a year, but if you are a heavy coffee drinker, you might need to touch up your smile every few months.

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