Temporary sensitivity is sometimes normal after undergoing teeth whitening treatment in a dental clinic. You can expect this minor discomfort and inconvenience to last approximately 24-48 hours following your teeth whitening treatment. Notify your dentist immediately if the sensitivity lasts longer than a few days as that could mean that there is another problem that needs to be addressed through additional treatment.
Tooth sensitivity following whitening treatment can be exacerbated due to direct contact with certain hot and cold stimuli or sweet foods. Taking certain preventative and precautionary steps before and after tooth whitening treatment can help reduce the level of post-treatment sensitivity you experience.
Preventing Teeth Whitening Sensitivity before Your Treatment
In addition to your regular at-home dental hygiene routine which should include brushing your teeth and flossing daily, there are certain steps you can take to prevent or reduce the effects of sensitivity.
Use Tooth Sensitivity-Preventing Products
If you have a cleaning or whitening appointment coming up, then your dentist can recommend a few sensitivity-preventing products and at-home treatments that you can use to prepare in the meantime.
Start by looking for well-known sensitivity toothpastes. Desensitizing toothpaste helps to block pain signals from reaching the inner nerves of your teeth, which is where the sensitivity originates. For optimal effectiveness, let the toothpaste sit on your teeth for a few minutes. You can ask your dentist for recommended toothpastes.
Another great at-home remedy to prevent tooth sensitivity caused by teeth whitening treatments is to use a warm saltwater rinse every morning and night after brushing and flossing your teeth. This will help rinse out additional stuck on food particles you may have missed and effectively disinfect your mouth in the process by eliminating harmful bacteria that contribute to sensitivity.
Applying desensitizing gels work in the same way as desensitizing toothpaste. Desensitizing gels and toothpastes are far more effective when they’re used in conjunction with one another. Try applying the gel right before your next teeth whitening appointment. Leave it on for a few minutes and rinse it out with warm water.
Desensitizing products can also help you build up a strong resistance to teeth whitening treatment sensitivity.
Take a Pain Reliever Prior to Your Teeth Whitening Treatment
Under the advisement of your doctor or dentist, you can try taking an over-the-counter pain reliever such as ibuprofen before your teeth whitening treatment. Just be sure to follow the instructions on the label and make sure that it won’t interfere or have negative interactions with other medications you may be taking. If you’re pregnant or are nursing, talk to your doctor before taking any medications.
If your teeth are especially sensitive, then your dentist may recommend using a local numbing agent to reduce discomfort during and after the teeth whitening procedure. To avoid having an adverse reaction, you should inform your dentist right away if you have taken any pain medication prior to the appointment.
Follow Your Dentist’s Recommendations
Every patient’s medical needs and circumstances are completely different and your dentist knows that. If you’ve been going to the same dentist for a number of years and have been keeping up with all of your checkups, then they should have a detailed medical history on hand. Based on that medical history and your specific sensitivity levels, your dentist should be able to make custom teeth whitening preparation recommendations for you.
Try following them to a T a few weeks before your appointment. If you find that they’re not working for you, ask your dentist for more in-depth suggestions based on your specific needs. They may recommend a specific brand of desensitizing toothpaste or gels that they use in their own practice and are proven to work. Alternatively, your dentist may also recommend certain at-home remedies that you can make using regular household products.
Handling Teeth Whitening Sensitivity after Your Treatment
Just like there are certain steps you can take to prevent sensitivity before your teeth whitening treatment, there are also a few effective aftercare techniques your dentist may recommend. If your teeth are prone to sensitivity, you may even want to consider adopting these dental care techniques as part of your regular at-home regimen from now on.
Avoid Hot and Cold Beverages
Of course, this is only a temporary recommendation. While you shouldn’t be eating or drinking anything immediately after getting any dental work done, your dentist will advise you to especially stay away from extremely hot or cold foods and beverages for at least a few hours after a teeth whitening treatment.
Due to the nature of the procedure, your teeth are bound to be especially sensitive to hot and cold sensations immediately after the treatment. Instead, eat and drink lukewarm foods and beverages for a few days to avoid aggravating your sensitivity until your teeth can slowly readjust to normal temperature exposures.
Avoid Acidic Foods and Beverages
While many acidic foods and beverages may boast great health benefits, they can also be extremely harmful to your teeth. Acidity found in foods and drinks can strip the enamel (protective barrier) off your teeth over time, exposing the dentin underneath. In addition to leading to harmful bacterial infections in your gums and teeth, lack of enamel is also one of the main causes of severe tooth sensitivity or pain.
Brush Your Teeth Gently and Slowly
Overly aggressive brushing and flossing are always ill-advised, but especially right after a tooth whitening treatment when your teeth are extremely sensitive and still in recovery mode.
Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and desensitizing toothpaste to help ease some of the mild or severe sensitivity you may be experiencing. Rinse your mouth out with warm or lukewarm water as opposed to hot or cold water. Before rinsing your mouth out however, let the toothpaste rest on your teeth for a minute or two to allow its desensitizing ingredients to do their work.
Use At-Home Teeth Whitening Kits
Some patients are, understandably, still a little hesitant to visit the dentist for a cleaning or whitening during the pandemic. As an alternative, you can use at-home teeth whitening kits in between or in lieu of clinical treatments. Although at-home teeth whitening kits aren’t necessarily as effective as in-office treatments, they’re a sufficient substitute in the meantime.
Just be sure to carefully monitor your treatment and don’t leave the teeth whitening agents on for too long. Follow the package directions exactly and never leave teeth whitening agents on your teeth overnight as this can cause serious dental problems. As always, opt for a dentist-recommended desensitizing toothpaste to facilitate the treatment and prolong the benefits.
Furthermore, do some research before choosing an at-home tooth whitening kit. Read through online reviews and make sure you fully understand the risks and how the kits work before using them.
Drink Water Through a Straw
After getting your teeth whitened, it’s highly ill-advised to drink anything aside from water for the first few days following your treatment. Unfortunately, that means forgoing your morning cup of coffee, which has two strikes against it. One, it’s too hot or cold to drink after just having your teeth whitened. Two, it stains your teeth, which completely defeats the purpose.
To avoid undoing the work of your dentist or at-home teeth whitening kit, stick to drinking water through a straw for a few days. The straw allows you to drink cool water without the liquid coming into direct contact with your teeth.
Continue Using Tooth Sensitivity Products
Tooth enamel depletes over time due to a number of different factors. Continuing to use tooth sensitivity products like toothpastes and gels on a regular basis even when you’re not due to get your teeth whitened can help to significantly reduce sensitivity and build up your tolerance for when you do get dental treatment.
Also, doing this means that you’ll always be prepared for your next appointment without having to make any drastic changes to your at-home dental hygiene regimen.
Schedule Regular Dental Appointments
The most important piece of advice regarding your dental health is to schedule regular dental appointments, even if it’s just for a simple checkup, at least once every four to six months. The frequency of your dental visits will be determined by your dentist based on the current state of your oral health.
Patients who are currently on the fast track to poor oral health will most likely require more frequent dental visits and cleanings. Those who have excellent dental health might simply require a little extra maintenance or a checkup every once in a while.
Get High-Quality Teeth Whitening Treatments from Princeview Dental Group
Over the last 30+ years, Dr. Janice Mummery at Princeview Dental Group has treated patients for teeth whitening in her practice. The staff at Princeview Dental Group is dedicated to delivering professional dental care to all of our patients, whatever your needs may be. Contact us today to learn more about our dental clinic or to book an appointment for a teeth whitening treatment.