While teeth whitening is very safe and effective, it is common to experience sensitivity after your treatment. The good news is that this sensitivity is only temporary; however, it can still cause some discomfort for the first few days after your procedure. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to minimize this sensitivity after teeth whitening.
Causes of Sensitivity after Teeth Whitening
There are several reasons why you may experience sensitivity after your teeth whitening treatment. These include:
- Whitening gels temporarily make your tooth enamel more permeable, exposing the soft dentin layer containing the nerves in your teeth.
- Some teeth whitening trays may exert forces on your teeth which will temporarily make them sensitive.
- The bleaching gels used for whitening treatments can cause irritation and sensitivity if they come into contact with your gums.
Steps to Take Prior to Your Teeth Whitening Treatment
There are certain preventative measures you can take prior to your teeth whitening procedure in order to minimize the sensitivity you’ll experience afterwards:
- Brush with a desensitizing toothpaste – Start using a desensitizing toothpaste approximately 10 days before your procedure. These toothpastes will help block pain signals from the surface of your tooth to its inner nerve. Leave the toothpaste on the surface of your teeth for a few minutes before rinsing in order to achieve maximum effectiveness.
- Apply a desensitizing gel – This should be done before your treatment. Leave the gel on your teeth for the recommended length of time and then rinse with water.
- Take pain medication – Taking over-the-counter pain medication such as ibuprofen prior to your teeth whitening procedure can help minimize sensitivity and discomfort. You can continue taking this medication after your treatment to manage any lingering sensitivity.
Steps to Take after Your Teeth Whitening Treatment
Taking the following steps after your procedure will help you shorten the duration and intensity of any tooth sensitivity you experience:
- Avoid hot and cold foods and drinks – Your teeth will be most sensitive during the first 1-2 days after your treatment. Make sure to avoid foods and beverages that are either very hot or very cold during this time. Instead, choose room temperature foods and drinks.
- Avoid acidic foods and drinks – Acidic foods and drinks such as sodas and citrus fruits can irritate your mouth, increasing the sensitivity you experience.
- Continue using a desensitizing toothpaste – Brushing with a desensitizing toothpaste and/or applying a desensitizing gel for the first 48 hours after your whitening procedure will help you cope with any sensitivity you may experience.
- Brush gently – Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and rinse with lukewarm water to minimize sensitivity.
- Use fluoride products – Toothpastes and mouthwashes containing fluoride can help remineralize your teeth and block the pain signals to your oral nerves.
- Drink through a straw – Drinking through a straw right after a whitening treatment will help prevent the liquid from making contact with your teeth, which can minimize discomfort.
Professional-Grade Teeth Whitening Minimizes Sensitivity
Most importantly, you should always avoid over-the-counter whitening products. These systems use generic trays which don’t fit the contours of your mouth properly, causing the bleaching gel to come into contact with your gums. This will increase the sensitivity you experience after your treatment.
Dr. Greenhalgh offers a variety of in-office and at-home teeth whitening systems that will provide more effective results than over-the-counter products while minimizing sensitivity. The trays used in these treatments will fit your teeth snugly, preventing the gel from coming into contact with your gums. Dr. Greenhalgh will also carefully monitor your procedure to ensure the right concentration of whitening gel is used.
Contact our Lakewood Cosmetic Dentist
If you’d like to learn more about your teeth whitening options, please contact Dr. Scott Greenhalgh using the form on this page or call 303-988-9060 today. We serve patients in Lakewood, Denver and the surrounding areas of Colorado.