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Teeth Whitening: Side Effects and What Can Be Done to Address Them

By Steven Kail on July 30, 2014


A man smiling outdoorsAt Premier Dental Center, we've developed a healthy patient base in Bells, Brownsville, and Jackson. The reason for this is that we offer the latest in cosmetic and restorative dentistry treatments, including teeth whitening to bleach those unsightly dental stains away and tooth-colored restorations that rebuild tooth structure and leave your smile looking as pristine as possible.

Right now we would like to take a few moments to consider the nature of teeth whitening treatment and what side effects from care patients can expect.

About Teeth Whitening Treatments

Whether you undergo a teeth whitening treatment at home or in the dentist's office, the principles of treatment are generally the same. The stained teeth are exposed to a bleaching agent that brightens and lightens the topmost layer of the teeth (the enamel). By doing this, the patient's smile looks whiter and more pristine.

Are side effects common after teeth whitening?

Yes, side effects do occur after teeth whitening, but thankfully the side effects are mild in nature and can be addressed and minimized with relative ease.

The two most common side effects of teeth whitening treatment are tooth sensitivity and gum irritation. Let's examine both and then look at how they can be overcome.

Tooth Sensitivity After Teeth Whitening

Tooth sensitivity occurs after teeth whitening as a result of small tubules that are located in the dentin, the layer off tooth structure just beneath the enamel. These tubules are tiny holes in the dentin that are similar in some ways to pores in the skin. The tubules lead into the tooth root, connecting to dental pulp and nerves.

When the enamel is penetrated by the bleaching gel, it causes the tubules in the dentin to open up and become more acutely aware of sensations. This is why foods and beverages that are hot or cold in temperature tend to cause discomfort after teeth whitening. The tooth sensitivity will generally last two or three days.

Tips for Addressing Tooth Sensitivity After Whitening

In order to prevent acute tooth sensitivity, your dentist will usually place a tooth desensitizer before or after the teeth whitening treatment. This will cut down on the level of discomfort for that first day after the teeth whitening treatment.

Patients are advised to only eat and drink beverages that are lukewarm in temperature. It's also recommended that patients rinse their teeth after brushing with lukewarm water to help prevent any issues with sensitivity during their regular oral hygiene routine.

Gum Irritation After Teeth Whitening

Another potential side effect of teeth whitening is gum sensitivity. Gum sensitivity occurs when the bleaching gel winds up on the gums or along the gumline rather than on the tooth structure itself. This tends to be a rarer or less acute side effect with professional teeth whitening since dentists and dental hygienists are very careful about where the bleaching gel winds up.

Tips for Addressing Gum Irritation After Whitening

When it comes to at-home teeth whitening, patients should follow their instructions for treatment carefully to ensure that the bleaching gel stays on the teeth. If any bleaching gel winds up on the gums, patients should not panic. The gel should simply be wiped off carefully with a cotton swab as soon as it's noticed.

Learn More About Advanced Dental Care

If you would like to learn more about teeth whitening and how it can be of great benefit to you and your needs, be sure to contact our dental care center today. The entire team at Premier Dental Center looks forward to your visit and helping you achieve great dental health and the most beautiful smile possible.

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