What To Do For Sensitive Teeth After Whitening
If you’ve ever experienced sensitive teeth after whitening your teeth, you’re not alone. Tooth sensitivity after whitening is common even in those who have never experienced sensitivity before. If you are among the more than 12% of people who have naturally sensitive teeth, they may become more sensitive after whitening. Fortunately, the sensitivity shouldn’t last long. In the meantime, read on for tips for dealing with sensitive teeth after whitening.
Types of Teeth Whitening Treatments
There are three main types of teeth whitening treatments:
- Professional strength take-home kits
- Over-the-counter whitening strips, toothpaste, molds
Whitening treatments that you receive in your dentist's office tend to produce the most noticeable results in the shortest amount of time. In fact, this cosmetic dental treatment can whiten your teeth up to 8 shades lighter in about an hour.
Dental-grade take-home whitening kits that you can buy from your dentist can also give you the results you’re hoping for, but they will take longer. In most cases, it will take a few weeks to see the full results.
Teeth whitening kits or products you buy at the store or online are the least effective at brightening your smile. This is because they contain a lower concentration of peroxide (active ingredient). Unfortunately, because store-bought teeth whitening kits and products are less effective, people often use them for too long, causing increased sensitivity.
Why Do My Teeth Get Sensitive After Whitening?
The sensitivity you experience is the result of the active ingredients penetrating the surface of the teeth to break up stains. Compared to store-bought products that only sit on the surface of your teeth, dental-grade whitening agents penetrate the surface enamel of the teeth.
If you are planning to book professional teeth whitening at your dentist’s office, begin using toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth before your treatment. The toothpaste will be specially formulated to desensitize the dentinal tubules in the teeth.
Tips for Dealing with Sensitive Teeth After Whitening
If your teeth are sensitive, or more sensitive than normal after having them bleached at the dentist's office, or during your take-home whitening treatment, follow these tips:
- Ask your dentist to prescribe or recommend toothpaste to help with sensitivity
- Switch to a soft-bristled toothbrush if you’re not already using one
- Brush your teeth slowly and gently
- Use a mouthwash that has fluoride to help remineralize your teeth
- When rinsing your mouth after brushing, use lukewarm water instead of cold water
- Avoid hot beverages (consider letting your coffee sit a bit, or put a few ice cubes in your tea to cool it down)
- Use a straw to bypass your teeth
- Avoid acidic foods and beverages (citrus, sodas, tomatoes, carbonated beverages, etc.)
- Use over-the-counter pain medicine such as ibuprofen, or Advil to manage discomfort.
In-office teeth whitening tends to result in less sensitivity than take-home kits. This is because the whitening agent is applied for a set period, and you are monitored during your treatment. In addition, with in-office teeth whitening, your gums, lips, and soft tissues are protected from the whitening agent with a special device to prevent damage to your gums.
At home, you may forget to set a timer or fall asleep, leaving the bleaching agent on your teeth longer than recommended. If you plan to whiten your teeth at home, you should be very mindful to follow the instructions perfectly.
If you have very sensitive teeth, or teeth that won’t respond to teeth whitening due to dental restorations, medications, etc., ask your dentist about other cosmetic treatments, such as dental veneers, microabrasion, or dental crowns for discolored or stained teeth.