Teeth whitening services are commonly used by patients seeking to improve the look of their teeth. It is considered to be a cosmetic procedure and can be performed at home or at a dentist’s office, though it is strongly recommended that a teeth whitening procedure only be done by a professional dentist. That’s because when patients attempt the procedure at home, they may use too much or too little gel or use whitening toothpaste or strips too often.
The one downside to this procedure, however, is that it can leave teeth feeling sensitive. The external surfaces of teeth are covered with dentinal tubes that are normally filled with fluid, but a teeth whitening procedure can disturb this fluid. As a result, the protective layer of your teeth is stripped away, causing the teeth to become more porous, temporarily exposing the sensitive areas of the teeth.
Pulpitis is another common cause of sensitivity that causes an increased blood flow to the pulp of the teeth, which can lead to both pressure and sensitivity. Luckily, this only lasts for a couple of weeks following any teeth whitening procedure.
Most patients report that sensitivity typically lasts anywhere from 24 to 40 hours following a tooth whitening procedure.
Causes of Tooth Sensitivity after Whitening
Unfortunately, tooth sensitivity pain is the number one reason many people avoid going to the dentist for a regular cleaning, checkup, or whitening session. Ironically, avoiding going to the dentist for any one of these reasons can further exacerbate the causes of your tooth sensitivity because it means they’ll be neglected and left untreated. It’s better to face the temporary tooth sensitivity that follows a tooth whitening session rather than allowing your teeth to continue festering unhealthy and destructive bacteria that can deteriorate the structural integrity and bone mass of your teeth.
Here are a few causes of tooth sensitivity that may occur following a whitening session with your dentist or at home:
Depletion of Protective Layer of Protein
All of your teeth naturally have a protective layer of protein that prevents them from getting damaged as a result of the foods you eat. Unfortunately, these proteins are powerless when it comes to preventing your teeth from becoming stained. Many teeth whitening agents, both clinical and commercial, contain a great deal of chemicals that must strip away at this protective layer of protein in order to remove the stains on the surface of your teeth. This can result in a great deal of temporary tooth sensitivity that typically only lasts a few weeks. If the sensitivity lasts longer than just a few weeks, then you should consult your dentist as soon as possible for a checkup.
Molecules from Bleach Increase Blood Flow
Most teeth whitening agents contain hydrogen peroxide, which breaks down the dentin in your teeth; this can also increase the chances of experiencing potent tooth sensitivity. The resulting increased blood flow can also cause gum inflammation and put a great deal of pressure on the nerves in your teeth. Usually, this sensation only lasts for about two weeks and should subside on its own provided that you adhere to the specific tooth sensitivity tips and advice provided by your dentist.
Using High Concentration Whitening Products
While incredibly effective when it comes to producing cleaner and whiter teeth, high concentration whitening products can also strip away the enamel on the surface of your teeth. This enamel acts as a protective layer for your teeth and prevents external factors from permanently damaging your teeth. Once this enamel has been stripped away, it doesn’t naturally replenish itself. This means that it’s gone for good unless your dentist can find a method of applying a substitute substance to take its place. The loss of tooth enamel results in tooth sensitivity because there’s no longer a barrier to protect your teeth from intensely cold or hot foods or beverages.
Tips to Relieve Tooth Sensitivity
Here are a few useful tips to stop tooth sensitivity and relieve its effects.
Use Desensitizing Toothpaste
Start brushing your teeth with desensitizing toothpaste approximately two weeks prior to your whitening appointment. This will help to reduce the amount of enamel that’s deteriorated during the teeth whitening process and help prepare and protect your teeth and gums for the trauma of the whitening agents. You should also refrain from brushing your teeth immediately after a teeth whitening session as this will only increase the sensitivity.
Avoid Hot, Cold, and Acidic Substances
Tooth sensitivity can be exacerbated by making contact with extremely hot, cold, or acidic foods and beverages. Try to avoid these types of substances at all costs and stick to room temperature or tepid foods and drinks for at least the first week following your teeth whitening session. Your teeth need time to adjust to the affects of the teeth whitening agents.
Use pH-Balancing Mouthwash
pH-balancing mouth washes will help your teeth and gums recover and return to their normal levels of acidity following your teeth whitening procedure. Whether you have your teeth whitened at your dentist’s office or go with an at-home teeth whitening kit, you can consult your dentist for product recommendations that are ideal for your individual needs.
Don’t Overuse Teeth Whitening Products
As mentioned, most teeth whitening agents have a high concentration of chemicals that strip away the natural enamel and proteins that protect your teeth in order to remove surface stains. That means the more you use them, the more irreplaceable enamel you’ll lose over time. Eventually, your teeth will have nothing left to protect them from external damages. If you’re using an at-home whitening kit, then it’s imperative that you follow the package directions exactly as they’re written. Don’t leave the whitening agents on your teeth longer than the amount of time that’s specified on the label of the product and don’t hesitate to ask your dentist for advice as well.
Be Wary of Hydrogen Peroxide Levels
Try to use teeth whitening products that contain low hydrogen peroxide levels. Even though this is the ingredient that actually removes stains from your teeth, high concentrations of it can also be very harmful to the well being of your teeth as it strips away the enamel and proteins from the surface of your teeth.
Use a Soft-Bristled Toothbrush
After your tooth whitening procedure, your dentist will advise you when you should start brushing your teeth again. Make sure to brush very lightly and carefully for the first few days and use a soft-bristled toothbrush to reduce any pain, discomfort, or sensitivity you may feel. To further soften the bristles on your toothbrush, you can run it under warm water for a few seconds before brushing.
Schedule Regular Dental Appointments
Paying regular visits to your dentist will help keep your tooth sensitivity issues at bay as your dentist will thoroughly clean out the crevices of your teeth and remove any accumulated calculus or bacteria that could be causing you problems. Routine checkups and cleanings once every six months will also give your dentist time to detect any potential issues that may be jeopardizing your oral health as soon as possible before they fester into more harmful problems.
Make an Appointment with Princeview Dental Group Today!
Princeview Dental Group has been a staple fixture in the Kingsway community of Etobicoke for over 20 years. We provide a large variety of dental procedures, including tooth sensitivity remedies. Contact us today to book an appointment for a general checkup or cleaning.