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How to Manage Sensitive Teeth After Whitening

Whitening is a popular procedure as it can noticeably change the appearance of your teeth for the better. Sometimes, teeth can become as much as 4 to 8 shades brighter. Teeth whitening is used in cases when teeth become stained or yellowed over time or because of some external factors. Below, we look at how to manage sensitive teeth after whitening.

How to Manage Sensitive Teeth After Whitening

Teeth whitening can involve several procedures, including the tooth bleaching process. Even though teeth whitening is considered safe for the enamel, it can leave your teeth sensitive for some time after the procedure. Here is our guide on how to manage sensitive teeth after whitening.

How Does Whitening Work

Teeth whitening is a procedure that involves a chemical reaction when whitening agents come into contact with the tooth enamel. More specifically, these chemicals interact with the dark-pigmented molecules within the tooth structure.

The chemicals typically used in the procedure are hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide. These two chemicals are very close in nature. They penetrate the enamel of your teeth and oxidize and break down the darkly colored molecules. Thus, the underlying tooth color is bleached to a lighter shade.

Why Teeth Are Sensitive After a Whitening Procedure

Patients may experience teeth sensitivity or pain for some time after the procedure when their teeth are exposed to such factors as hot or cold beverages and food, air, sweet or acidic food, or brushing with a toothbrush. These feelings are normal and expected after the procedure.

Teeth sensitivity occurs due to the nature of the whitening procedure and the chemicals used to bleach your teeth. Peroxide is very effective in removing the stains on your teeth, but it also can cause a minor demineralization of the teeth. This makes teeth more porous and exposes dentinal tubules within the teeth.

Dentinal tubules are also called microtubules. They are channels that connect the surface of the tooth with its center, where the nerves are located. Dentinal tubules normally allow us to have sensations on our teeth. When they are exposed to bleaching, the sensitivity increases.

On top of that, in some cases, exposure to peroxide while teeth bleaching can cause the pulp and nerves inside the teeth to become slightly inflamed.

When Will My Teeth Stop Being Sensitive?

Usually, sensitivity can be an issue only during or a short time after the ongoing procedure of whitening, which can take some time to complete. Teeth sensitivity and pain should go away in a few days after the treatment is complete because the teeth remineralize and the microtubules seal up again.

Tips to Manage Teeth Sensitivity After Whitening

As we mentioned before, some sensitivity after the teeth whitening procedure is normal and expected. However, it can still cause discomfort to a patient. There are several things you can do to manage teeth sensitivity.

Use a Soft Toothbrush

Even teeth that have not undergone a whitening procedure can be damaged by hard brushes. If your teeth are sensitive and need to remineralize, it is best to use a soft, non-abrasive brush to avoid damaging the enamel and the gums.

Try Using a Desensitizing Toothpaste

It might be a good idea to start using a desensitizing toothpaste two weeks before the whitening procedure. Then, continue using it during and after the procedure. Such toothpastes work by occluding microtubules within the teeth. They usually contain active desensitizing agents such as, for example, calcium carbonate, that reduce pain.

Avoid Factors That Cause Sensitivity and Pain

Factors that increase teeth pain after whitening might include:

  • Drinking cold or hot beverages
  • Eating sweet foods
  • Eating acidic or sour foods
  • Exposing your teeth to air

Use a Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Medication

NSAIDs are medications that reduce inflammation, redness, swelling, and pain. You can try using such medication right before or after the treatment. Consult with your dentist about what types of NSAIDs are the best in your case. Always adhere to the instructions and never exceed the recommended dose.

Use a Fluoride Mouthwash

Rinsing your teeth with a fluoride mouthwash can help when it comes to remineralizing your teeth. Once your teeth are remineralized and the dentinal tubules sealed up, the sensitivity will go away.

Teeth whitening is a non-invasive dental procedure that can dramatically change the appearance of your smile. Even though some sensitivity and pain are expected after the procedure, it is considered not to be damaging to the tooth enamel. Your dentists at Valley Alder Family Dentistry offer an at-home customized whitening solution that provides professional results. Make an appointment today at our office to learn more about teeth whitening.