By removing the stains and discolorations that appear over time, teeth-whitening treatments can quickly and safely brighten your smile. The whitening agent (typically carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide) used in these treatments oxidizes discolored molecules, and while this won’t harm your teeth, you may experience sensitivity afterward. In fact, sensitivity is a relatively common side effect of teeth whitening. So, how long are teeth sensitive after whitening?
Why Are My Teeth Sensitive After Whitening?
First, it’s important to note that experiencing sensitivity and discomfort following a teeth-whitening treatment does not indicate that your teeth were damaged during the whitening process. These are common side effects.
Sensitivity occurs when the active ingredients in a whitening product (typically hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide) reach the nerves located within each tooth. Bleaching agents can irritate the nerves. The severity of discomfort will vary based on a number of factors, including whether the patient has whitened their teeth recently, the strength of the treatment, and the unique characteristics of the person’s teeth.
At Wilkinson Dental, we use Opalescence, a safe and scientifically proven whitening system. It includes two desensitizing ingredients, potassium nitrate and fluoride, which aim to reduce your sensitivity and enhance your comfort during the procedure.
How Long Will the Discomfort Last?
So, how long are teeth sensitive after tooth whitening? The length of sensitivity varies, but it’s typically temporary and will fade shortly after the treatment. Sensitivity is most common during a whitening treatment. It may fade within minutes or hours, or it may persist for a few days following the procedure.
And, of course, in some cases, patients’ teeth aren’t sensitive at all. Sensitivity isn’t an inevitable side effect of teeth whitening. People who experience gum and tooth sensitivity prior to treatment are more likely to experience sensitivity during the procedure and should consult with their dentist before whitening their teeth. In addition, people with gum disease, exposed roots, cavities, or worn-down enamel may be advised not to whiten their teeth until these issues have been addressed.
How Can I Lessen My Tooth Sensitivity?
If you’re experiencing discomfort following a teeth-whitening treatment, consider contacting your dental team to learn about products that may help. For example, toothpastes with sensitivity relief are available. You can also find desensitizing gels for rapid relief. These products are effective following teeth-whitening treatments, but they’re also helpful for people who generally experience sensitivity after eating very hot/cold foods or drinking hot/cold beverages. To find the best option for your symptoms, consult with your dentist.
Reduce the Frequency of Treatments
If you’re using at-home trays, you may wish to temporarily pause your treatment if it becomes painful. Rinse your mouth with tepid water to remove the whitening treatment, and wait a few days before applying the treatment again. If the pain persists, contact your dentist. Going forward, increase the length of time between whitening treatments.
Adjust Your Diet Temporarily
In the hours or days following your treatment, you may wish to avoid extremely hot, extremely cold, and very acidic foods and drinks, as they may exacerbate your tooth sensitivity. You could also sip hot/cold drinks through a straw to minimize their contact with your teeth.
Looking for an experienced, reliable, and friendly dentist to whiten your teeth? If you live in or near Springfield, Missouri, contact Wilkinson Dental. Dr. Wilkinson and his team will give you the personalized treatment you deserve using state-of-the-art technology. We offer Opalescence teeth whitening treatments, in-office procedures as well as take-home trays. For exceptional and comprehensive dental care, schedule your first appointment today by calling 417-708-0556 or requesting an appointment online. We look forward to hearing from you!