Tooth sensitivity affects the majority of patients who choose to whiten their teeth to some degree. For most, the sensation is mild and subsides quickly, but for others, it can be more intense and last for days.
Teeth whitening for those with sensitive teeth may appear impossible, but there are comfortable solutions. If you have found that your teeth are too sensitive for whitening, your dentist may be able to help, and here’s how.
All teeth whitening products contain some amount of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. The ingredient amount varies between at-home and professional treatments; however, any amount can lead to irritation in addition to temporary or lasting tooth sensitivity. When the peroxide penetrates the tooth enamel, the soft layer of dentin where the nerve is located can be easily irritated. As whitening gel undergoes its natural process from active to inactive, the pores in the teeth are left open and exposed, which results in tooth dehydration. The tooth will remain sensitive until the pressure is relieved from re-hydration, which occurs through saliva production over the course of several hours. Other factors can affect the degree and duration of sensitivity, including the concentration of peroxide or not using the product as prescribed.
Before you begin any teeth whitening treatment, it’s essential to address any underlying oral health issues that can cause tooth sensitivity like gum disease or cavities. Most dental health problems are easily treatable, so once these issues are addressed, you can continue with whitening treatments with less risk of experiencing sensitivity.
Your dentist can also assist you in finding the right professional or at-home whitening treatment specifically designed for those with sensitive teeth.
Professional whitening treatments performed by a dentist are often the ideal option for those with sensitive teeth. While professional whitening is more expensive than at-home treatments, it allows a trained professional to monitor the process and ensures that your teeth remain safe throughout the treatment. Gels and desensitizers can also be used to help reduce sensitivity while your teeth are being whitened to decrease any potential sensitivity. In-office whitening is also the most effective at removing deep stains and lasts longer than DIY treatments.
Teeth that are severely stained or damaged may not be able to have a positive reaction to whitening treatments. If this is the case for you, your dentist may recommend porcelain veneers. Your dentist can help to inform you of the porcelain veneer process and what to expect during treatment.
At-home teeth whitening treatments are the most cost-effective way to give your dull smile a bright boost. However, many of these drugstore options can easily irritate sensitive teeth and gums, especially if they are not used as directed.
When choosing a DIY whitening treatment, you will be faced with many options, including whitening toothpaste, gels, strips, rinses, and over-the-counter whitening trays. Always be sure to read the directions and labels for warnings regarding sensitivity. There are many whitening products available to consumers that are specially formulated to work for those with sensitive teeth.
Whatever method you choose for whitening a sensitive smile, be sure to take these specific steps to prolong the effects of your efforts, including:
A whiter smile is possible for those with sensitive teeth. Contact Tompkins dental today to discuss potential whitening options for your sensitive smile.