Teeth whitening treatments are a popular way to enhance the appearance of your smile. However, one of the side effects of these treatments can be tooth sensitivity. If you have recently undergone a teeth whitening treatment and are experiencing sensitivity, there are several steps you can take to prevent and treat it. In this article, we will discuss the causes of tooth sensitivity after teeth whitening treatments and provide tips for preventing and treating it.
The Relationship Between Teeth Whitening and Tooth Sensitivity
Teeth whitening treatments work by using a bleaching agent, typically hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, to remove stains and discoloration from the surface of the teeth. When the bleaching agent comes into contact with the teeth, it penetrates the enamel and breaks down the chemical bonds that cause stains.
While teeth whitening treatments can be very effective, they can also contribute to tooth sensitivity. This is because the bleaching agent can penetrate the enamel and reach the underlying dentin layer, which contains microscopic tubules that lead to the nerves in the tooth. When the tubules are exposed, hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and drinks can trigger a pain response in the nerve, causing sensitivity.
In addition, teeth whitening treatments can also cause dehydration of the teeth, which can further contribute to sensitivity. This is because dehydration can cause the enamel to become thinner and more prone to wear and tear.
It’s important to note that while tooth sensitivity after teeth whitening treatments is common, it is usually temporary and should resolve on its own within a few days or weeks. However, if your sensitivity persists or is severe, it’s important to consult with your dentist to rule out any underlying dental problems or to explore treatment options.
How to Prevent and Treat Tooth Sensitivity After Whitening Treatments
While not all cases of sensitivity can be prevented, there are several steps you can take to minimize the risk of tooth sensitivity after a teeth whitening treatment, including:
Use a Desensitizing Toothpaste:
Desensitizing toothpaste can be effective in preventing and treating tooth sensitivity after a teeth whitening treatment. These toothpastes contain ingredients like potassium nitrate, fluoride, or strontium chloride, which can help reduce sensitivity by blocking the pain signals from the nerves in the teeth.
Using desensitizing toothpaste before and after a teeth whitening treatment can help prepare your teeth and reduce the risk of sensitivity. These toothpastes work by creating a protective barrier over the exposed dentin and nerve endings, reducing the amount of stimulation they receive from hot, cold, sweet, or acidic substances.
If you experience sensitivity after a teeth whitening treatment, using desensitizing toothpaste can help provide relief. Continued use of desensitizing toothpaste can also help treat sensitivity over time by strengthening the enamel and reducing the size of the exposed dentin tubules.
However, it’s important to note that desensitizing toothpaste may not be effective for everyone, especially in cases of severe sensitivity. If your sensitivity persists or becomes severe, it’s important to discuss it with your dentist, who can recommend the best treatment options based on your individual needs and dental health.
Consider In-Office Whitening Treatments:
In-office teeth whitening treatments can help reduce the risk of tooth sensitivity compared to at-home whitening kits. This is because dentists use specialized tools and techniques to apply the whitening agent and protect the teeth during the treatment.
During an in-office whitening treatment, your dentist will use a professional-grade whitening agent with a higher concentration of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide compared to at-home kits. However, your dentist will also take measures to protect your teeth and gums from the whitening agent, such as using a barrier gel or a dental dam.
In addition, your dentist will monitor the treatment closely to ensure that it doesn’t over-bleach the teeth or cause damage to the enamel. This can help prevent sensitivity caused by overexposure to the whitening agent.
Furthermore, in-office whitening treatments can be customized to your individual needs and dental health. Your dentist can adjust the concentration and duration of the treatment based on the level of sensitivity you experience, and can also recommend desensitizing treatments or products to use before or after the whitening procedure.
Overall, in-office whitening treatments can provide a safer and more effective way to whiten your teeth while minimizing the risk of sensitivity compared to at-home whitening kits. However, it’s important to discuss any concerns or issues with your dentist, who can recommend the best treatment options based on your individual needs and dental health.
Avoid Acidic Foods and Drinks:
Avoiding acidic foods and drinks can help reduce the risk of sensitivity after a teeth whitening treatment because acidic foods and drinks can erode the enamel and expose the dentin layer, which can increase sensitivity to hot, cold, and sweet foods.
To reduce the risk of sensitivity, it’s recommended to avoid acidic foods and drinks for at least 48 hours before and after a teeth whitening treatment. This includes foods and drinks like citrus fruits, tomato-based sauces, vinegars, and carbonated drinks.
Consider Fluoride Treatment:
Fluoride is a mineral that helps strengthen the enamel of the teeth and protect them against decay and sensitivity. Fluoride treatment can help reduce sensitivity by remineralizing the enamel and filling in microscopic pores, which can help block the sensations that cause sensitivity.
Your dentist may recommend a fluoride treatment after teeth whitening to help reduce sensitivity and protect your teeth against future damage. Fluoride treatments can be applied as a gel, foam, or varnish, and are typically left on the teeth for several minutes to allow the fluoride to penetrate the enamel.
Tooth sensitivity can be an unfortunate side effect of teeth whitening treatments. However, by taking the right precautions and following a few simple steps, you can prevent and treat sensitivity effectively. Avoiding acidic foods and drinks, using desensitizing toothpaste, and trying a fluoride treatment are just a few ways to prevent sensitivity after teeth whitening. With the right approach, you can enjoy a brighter, more beautiful smile without sacrificing your dental health and comfort. For more information, schedule a consultation with Dr. Sadati today.
Dr. Sadati possesses extensive experience in all aspects of advanced restorative dentistry, with an emphasis in cosmetic and implant dentistry. He has attained Accredited Fellow status in the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), the most rigorous, demanding credentialing process in the world. He is the only AACD Accredited Fellow in South Florida.