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Teeth Sensitivity to Whitening

Close up of a girl wincing at a sensitive tooth

Teeth whitening is a relatively simple dental procedure that yields a whiter, brighter smile. However, one common side effect that can occur after a professional teeth whitening procedure is teeth sensitivity. Teeth sensitivity means that your teeth will suddenly experience pain when exposed to either hot or cold stimulants. Generally speaking, this discomfort is usually mild and will fade quickly as your teeth recover.

Due to the nature of professional teeth whitening procedures, some teeth sensitivity is to be expected after the procedure and is completely normal. Most teeth whitening procedures work by dehydrating the dentin layer, and teeth sensitivity is caused by tooth dehydration. Since it takes up to 48 hours to rehydrate the teeth, this means sensitive teeth for the first two days following treatment is a possibility. However, teeth sensitivity is also affected by saliva flow and the condition of the enamel. If your enamel is worn down, you are already at risk for teeth sensitivity regardless of whether you have had your teeth professionally whitened or not. Also, the amount of saliva flowing through your mouth can determine how long it takes to rehydrate your teeth. The more saliva, the sooner your teeth will rehydrate, and the sooner the discomfort will fade.

Although you may experience some teeth sensitivity following professional teeth whitening, this should not hinder you from having the procedure. There are several things you can do, both before and after treatment to minimize any possible teeth sensitivity you may experience. Before your procedure you can start brushing your teeth with toothpastes intended for sensitive teeth. Specifically, you will want to look for toothpastes that contain potassium nitrate and stannous fluoride, while avoiding those with sodium lauryl sulfate. Potassium nitrate helps to soothe the nerves in your teeth by blocking the neural pathway responsible for pain and stannous fluoride helps to strengthen and protect the tooth’s surface. Sodium lauryl sulfate is the ingredient responsible for making toothpaste foamy, but it has been found to dry the lining of the mouth, resulting in canker sores, mouth irritations, and teeth sensitivity. Once you have selected a toothpaste for sensitive teeth, brush with this toothpaste for a week before your teeth whitening procedure and for a few days after the procedure. This should help to alleviate any excess discomfort.

After your teeth whitening treatment, there are also a few things you will want to do differently during your brushing routine. One main thing you will want to do is to brush your teeth gently to avoid further discomfort or irritation. You will also want to hold the sensitive toothpaste in your mouth for a few seconds longer than usual to make sure you are getting the maximum effect. Finally, you will want to use lukewarm water when rinsing your mouth to avoid the temperature sensitivity associated with water that is too hot or too cold.

Finally, if you already have sensitive teeth before undergoing a teeth whitening procedure, or if you are concerned about possible teeth sensitivity after the procedure, be sure to speak with Dr. Sadati. Depending on your case, Dr. Sadati may be able to perform a sensitivity test to determine if you are predispositioned for excess sensitivity after treatment. Based on the findings, Dr. Sadati can then develop a treatment plan that will be the most comfortable for you.

If you are interested in learning more about teeth whitening or about getting a sensitivity test prior to treatment, book a consultation with Dr. Sadati today!