You pop on a goopy strip, and a short while later you've got teeth as white and gleaming as polished tile. But how do those strips work? Wired explains, and when you zoom in to the individual ions flying around, it looks a lot like a sci-fi space attack.

Turns out, there's a lot of powerful chemistry inside each one of those whitening strips. From floor cleaner to diaper absorbent, it's stuff you wouldn't generally think to put in your mouth. But mixed properly, and applied in the privacy of your own bathroom, the stuff works its magic, without having to sit through your dentist's annoying metal-on-tooth scraping.