Tips For Managing Discomfort From Sensitivity After Teeth Whitening

Dentists providing teeth whitening services want to minimize sensitivity that patients may temporarily experience after treatment. Those who already have sensitive teeth should understand that information when scheduling the appointment or filling out the medical history paperwork. Even patients who have never had this problem may experience some discomfort for a while after the procedure. 

The Usual Reasons for Sensitivity

One reason this problem occurs is tooth enamel becoming too thin or porous to fully protect the second layer of the tooth, which is the dentin underneath. The other reason is the layer covering the root becoming exposed when the gum tissue recedes. That layer is medically known as the cementum.

Why Whitening Can Cause Sensitivity

The hydrogen peroxide from the whitening process penetrates the enamel, which leads to more blood flow to those areas. The pulp becomes irritated because of the increased pressure. In addition, the peroxide can reach nerves inside the teeth, causing an aching sensation. The treatment also temporarily makes teeth more porous because of slight demineralization. There is less protection for the dentin until the enamel remineralizes. 

New or worsening sensitivity typically only lasts for a few days after whitening. However, some patients deal with it for a couple of weeks. For this reason, advice about reducing sensitivity should be followed for the full 14 days.

Dental Care Products

The fastest way to accomplish remineralization is to brush with fluoride paste two or three times a day. Toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth also contains potassium nitrate to calm nerves inside. This kind of dental care product can be very effective at reducing symptoms.

People with chronic sensitivity who have had little success with toothpaste for sensitive teeth may want to ask the dentist about prescription products. Prescription-strength paste and gels are more powerful at decreasing sensitivity.

Avoiding Extreme Temperatures

The dentist may recommend avoiding consuming very hot or cold substances for this time frame. Some of the worst culprits for causing sharp pain in sensitive teeth include things like hot melted cheese on pizza and, in contrast, ice water. Deep-fried mushrooms and cheese curds retain a significant amount of heat. Eating ice cream is tough for people with tooth sensitivity. Coffee and soup could be left to cool for a bit before consuming.

Generally, people with chronic teeth sensitivity have learned to avoid letting hot or cold substances touch their enamel. They drink cold beverages with a straw, for example. They don't bite into a steaming hot hamburger. They may need to be even more vigilant for a short time after whitening.

Patients with concerns about sensitivity after teeth whitening should talk with the dentist or hygienist before treatment begins.