What Causes Sensitive Teeth After Whitening?
Tooth sensitivity commonly occurs after teeth whitening due to the presence of carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide in whitening products. These two compounds are commonly used as important elements in different dental whitening treatments. Their functionality is based on initiating a chemical reaction with substances called chromogens, which are present on the surface of teeth and are responsible for their color.
Our teeth can become discolored due to the presence of chromogens, which are bacteria that form on the surface of our teeth.
The combination of peroxides and chromogens in tooth whitening results in a brighter tooth shade. However, occasional contact with these peroxides can cause inflammation in the tooth, which can affect the nerve and pulp.
During the teeth whitening process, there is a chance of experiencing temporary toothache or sensitivity, which may occur alongside:
- Cold beverages or foods
- Sweet, sour, or acidic foods
- Brushing your teeth
Six tips for tooth pain and sensitivity after whitening
Temporary tooth pain and sensitivity are common side effects that can occur after using teeth whitening products. There are suggestions available to potentially reduce post-procedure discomfort. Find relief from sensitivity by implementing the following tips.
1. Use a less concentrated whitening product
Hydrogen peroxide concentrations in whitening strips sold without a prescription can range from 5.3% to 6.5%, while dentists may use carbamide peroxide products with varying strengths, ranging from 10% to 45%. It is important to mention that the level of teeth sensitivity typically rises with the concentration of the product utilized.
2. Reduce the quantity of whitening product in the tray
It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using a teeth whitening tray at home. Please ensure that you apply the appropriate amount of whitening gel to the tray. It is important to add a small amount of gel to each tooth area of the tray, being careful not to overfill it. If too much gel spills onto your gum tissue, it means that too much gel has been inserted into the tray. As a result, this occurrence increases the likelihood of experiencing sensitivity. To fix this issue, you can remove the excess whitening gel using either your toothbrush or a cotton swab.
3. Increase the time between whitening treatments
If gingival irritation or sensitivity caused by whitening becomes too much to handle, individuals have the option to refrain from daily whitening. It is acceptable to skip days in order to give the gingival tissue enough time to heal and reduce tooth sensitivity. This alternative approach may lead to the desired whitening outcome, but it may take a longer time to achieve.
4. Wait to resume whitening treatment until sensitivity decreases
If not whitening your teeth for several days doesn’t give you the desired break, it may be necessary to stop whitening your teeth for a while. It is recommended to wait for at least one month or longer before attempting to whiten again.
5. Brush with sensitive toothpaste
Toothpastes for sensitive teeth contain potassium nitrate, an active compound that helps reduce tooth sensitivity caused by whitening procedures. Applying this substance twice daily before or during the teeth bleaching process has been shown to be highly effective.
6. Have your dentist apply a desensitizing gel or fluoride varnish
After teeth whitening, desensitizing gels and fluoride varnish can be used to provide relief for sensitive teeth. The varnish is carefully applied by your dental care provider, forming a thin coating on your teeth, with powerful concentrations of sodium fluoride up to 5%. The relief provided is both quick and long-lasting, offering respite for a significant amount of time, lasting up to 8 weeks in certain cases.
How long does tooth sensitivity last after teeth whitening?
The sensitivity experienced after teeth whitening usually goes away within four days once the whitening procedure is finished. If the sensitivity continues for an extended period of time, it could suggest an underlying dental issue.
Additional factors that could potentially impact sensitivity include:
- Teeth with decay
- Exposed dentin (layer that lies beneath the enamel and provides protection for the tooth’s nerve)
- Cracks in the teeth
- Defective or broken-down restorations (like fillings, crowns, veneers, or bridges)
It is important to consult with your dental practitioner when seeking a brighter smile. By conducting a thorough examination of your teeth and existing dental work, sensitivity issues caused by external factors can be prevented. In addition, your dentist will guide you in choosing the most appropriate whitening products for your specific needs and address any necessary dental treatments before starting the whitening procedure.