5 Ways to Prevent and Treat Sensitivity Caused by Teeth Whitening

Written by on October 8, 2012 in Health - No comments | Print this page


According to Essortment.com, “One of the most common types of body language is the smile-it’s the universal sign of acceptance and happiness”.   Having a smile that shows whiter teeth is attractive and can increase your confidence at work and in social situations.

A quick way to brighten your entire appearance without surgery is by having a cosmetic teeth whitening procedure done.   However, sometimes teeth whitening can come at unfortunate price- sensitivity.

Bleaching solutions are designed to penetrate deep into the teeth and as a result, teeth may sometimes become sensitive after undergoing a whitening treatment.   This penetration not only helps the bleaching product break up stains but also may increase the blood flow and pressure in the tooth pulp which is what affects sensitivity.   Teeth can also be sensitized after whitening because of the effect that whitening has on the enamel of teeth.   In order to strip out some of the built-in stains in teeth, whitening products have to strip some of the tooth enamel with it.   This can cause increased exposure of the center of the tooth through pores which would normally be protected by enamel.

Here are 5 different things you can do to protect yourself from sensitivity during your next whitening session:

  • Brushing. Definitely want to make sure you’re following an oral health routine when doing a whitening treatment.  This is important so that you don’t open yourself up to cavities through the opened pores in your teeth.  That being said, make sure you brush your teeth before you have a whitening treatment, but do not brush your teeth after one!   Brushing after a whitening treatment can further open the pores exposed by the whitening treatment and increase sensitivity.  Toothpaste may also damage teeth by reacting with the whitening solutions which are often acidic.  So give your teeth some time to recover after a whitening treatment and you will decrease sensitivity.

  • Desensitizers. Using a desensitizing gel before going in for a whitening treatment may be a good idea.  Desensitizer will do just that- make your teeth less sensitive so that they won’t feel as much of the pain from the exposed pores.  This should be done about 10 to 30 minutes before the bleaching occurs but consult with your dentist before the actual treatment. Desensitizing gels can be a huge relief for some patients, but some brands of take-home trays that you can get from your dentist may already come with a desensitizing gel in the tray.  You certainly don’t want to overdose the desensitizing gel!
  • Rinse with water. Sometimes, after a whitening treatment your mouth may have a pH imbalance.  If your mouth acid levels are a little off, rinsing with water can help bring back the healthy balance that your mouth is used to to.  If you are little concerned about swishing cold water around your mouth, try rinsing with lukewarm water.  At first, it may sting slightly, but once the proper pH balance returns, this will help.
  • Use as directed.  Normally, this one should be a no-brainer, but sometimes sensitivity can occur from improper use of the whitening products.   Never leave whitening products on your teeth longer than what your dentist tells you or the product instructions indicate.  Also, don’t use a higher concentration of the whitening gel than the dentist tells you to.  Having excess whitening gel on your teeth will not only penetrate the enamel but it may also open up further pores and your teeth will become even more sensitive.
  • Ibuprofen & sensitivity toothpaste.  If you’ve tried everything and followed directions carefully and you still can’t stop experiencing sensitivity, try an anti-inflammatory like ibuprofen.  This should help with the sensitivity right after the whitening procedure.  If you follow the dosing instructions of ibuprofen, a second dose may also help stave off sensitivity for the whole day.   A further long-term solution can also be switching from your regular toothpaste to one that is made for sensitive teeth.  This is especially helpful if you intend to start a whitening routine on a regular basis to keep your teeth looking white.

This is a guest post.  Jessica Harmon is blogger whose topics include oral health, she is currently writing for Dr. James A. Wells, a dentist in Charlotte NC at South Charlotte Dentistry.

Images courtesy of Google Images


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