Dental Tips Blog


Teeth Whitening and Managing Sensitivity

Posted in Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening is a very popular cosmetic dentistry procedure.  It is inexpensive, produces noticeable results quickly, and has been used safely by millions of people with few adverse side effects.  However, some people experience increased sensitivity after whitening.  If you have ever experienced tooth sensitivity after whitening, you know how uncomfortable it can be.

Fortunately, you don’t have to give up on having a beautiful pearly white smile just because of increased sensitivity.  Not all teeth whitening patients experience increased sensitivity after a tooth whitening treatment.  For patients that do, it usually starts shortly after the whitening treatment and only lasts a day or two at most.

Taking an NSAID like Advil may help keep the discomfort to a minimum. If you have increased sensitivity for more than a few days after your tooth whitening treatment, see your dentist.  This may be a sign of a more serious problem.

To reduce sensitivity, many dentists recommend using a strong fluoride toothpaste for a few days or even weeks prior to the whitening treatment.  If you have experienced sensitivity in the past, your dentist may prescribe a prescription strength fluoride toothpaste to use prior to your treatment.  You can also try a desensitizing toothpaste that is available over the counter.  These toothpastes work best if you let the toothpaste remain on your teeth instead of rinsing thoroughly immediately after brushing.

For some patients, spreading the whitening treatment over a few visits can also help with sensitivity issues.  You can get great results with reduced sensitivity by using a less powerful whitening agent and leaving it on the teeth for shorter period of time, but you will need more whitening treatments.


Tooth Whitening Side Effects

Posted in Teeth Whitening

Tooth whitening is one of the most popular cosmetic dentistry procedures in America today.  About 15 percent of Americans have tried some form of tooth whitening procedure.  When performed properly, tooth whitening (also called teeth bleaching) is an effective way to whiten your teeth and improve the aesthetics of your smile.  It is relatively inexpensive, non-invasive, and the results are immediate. For the vast majority of patients, tooth whitening is safe and effective with few, if any, side effects.

However, there are a few risks and disadvantages of tooth whitening that you should be aware of before you begin.  Be sure to discuss any concerns with your dentist before you start the treatment.

One of the most common side effects is that your teeth may become more sensitive to hot and cold.  Patients with receding gums or who normally experience tooth sensitivity are at the greatest risk of increased sensitivity.  The condition is usually temporary and using a special desensitizing toothpaste will usually provide relief.

Some patients experience irritation of the gums and/or lips.  In some cases, sores may develop and the patient’s lip may swell.  These symptoms usually resolve on their own after a few days.  If you experience persistent irritation, swelling, or sores on you gums, lips, or inside your mouth following a tooth whitening procedure, see your dentist or primary care physician.

Uneven effectiveness can be a problem if you have tooth colored caps or crowns, or if you have had tooth colored fillings or bonding material.  The bleaching agent will not have any effect on these materials and they may look yellowed compared to your newly whitened teeth.  Your dentist can replace these yellower materials, but it will drive up the cost of the tooth whitening procedure.


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