Teeth sensitivity after whitening isn’t permanent, but it can be uncomfortable. Follow these five tips to manage any post-whitening pain.
Teeth whitening is one of the most popular ways to add some extra sparkle to your smile before a special event like a wedding or job interview. In just a few hours you can make your teeth several shades brighter, and you can even whiten your teeth at home. Unfortunately, some people experience tooth sensitivity after bleaching — this can range from mild discomfort to a full-blown migraine.
Why does teeth whitening sometimes cause sensitivity? And, is there any way to prevent the pain? Here’s what you need to know.
What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?
Peroxide is the active ingredient in teeth whitening treatments that makes your smile bright, but peroxide can also cause sensitivity. When you apply a dental-grade bleaching agent to your teeth, you’re not just lifting stains on the surface of your teeth — you’re whitening the actual structure of your teeth.
Your tooth enamel is the hard external coating that protects your dentin, the porous inner part of the tooth. As the peroxide seeps deep into your teeth, it works through your enamel and deep into your dentin for maximum brightening power. However, if you bleach your teeth often or use a particularly strong whitening agent, the peroxide can erode your tooth enamel, exposing your dentin and irritating the tooth nerve. This makes your teeth sensitive to certain foods, drinks, and extreme temperatures.
Tooth sensitivity typically lasts for a few days after a whitening treatment. It’ll be most pronounced on the first day, but you’re likely to notice significant improvement as more time passes. By the end of the week, you’ll have a whiter smile and no more pain.
Tips for Managing Tooth Sensitivity
Tooth sensitivity isn’t permanent, but you don’t have to tough it out until the pain subsides on its own. If you frequently whiten your teeth at home using DIY whitening kits, try these pain-relieving tips and tricks to ease any sensitivity.
- Follow the instructions carefully — Before starting your DIY treatment, read the instructions carefully multiple times. If you leave the peroxide on longer than recommended or accidentally skip critical steps, you could damage your enamel and make tooth sensitivity worse.
- Make certain changes to your diet — For the first few days after your whitening treatment, avoid extremely hot or cold foods and beverages.
- Use dental care products specifically for sensitive teeth — Use a soft-bristle toothbrush, fluoride rinse, and tooth sensitivity toothpaste after your treatment. These products are gentler on your gums and can help reduce your symptoms.
- Try a lower peroxide product — Not all DIY treatment options are created equal. If possible, opt for a brand that has six to 10 percent peroxide. The whitening effect might not be as strong, but you’ll have less sensitivity afterward.
- Try a desensitizing product — If you know you’re prone to tooth sensitivity, you can prevent more severe symptoms by using a desensitizing gel that contains five percent potassium nitrate and fluoride. Apply the gel 10 to 30 minutes before your at-home treatment.
If your teeth are still sensitive after you’ve tried these home remedies or the pain is severe, it might be time to consult your dentist for an expert opinion.
Leave Whitening to the Professionals
The best way to achieve a sparkling smile with minimal tooth sensitivity is to get a professional whitening treatment. Dentists place the safety and health of your teeth above all else, and they know the secret to whitening your teeth without damaging your enamel.
If you’re in the Denver metro area, contact the dental professionals at Espire today! Our team is committed to making every dental procedure as pain-free and anxiety-free as possible.