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Sensitivity after Teeth Whitening

December 21, 2012 — by John Meola
Tags: Teeth Whitening Cosmetic Dentistry Porcelain Veneers

Boston Teeth Whitening SensitivityProfessional teeth whitening can instantly transform your smile and make you look and feel better. In-office teeth whitening is a safe procedure with minimal side effects and risks. Increased tooth sensitivity is the most common side effect associated with teeth whitening. The Boston cosmetic dentists of the Dental Associates of New England offer this information on sensitivity after teeth whitening and tips to help relieve any resulting pain.

What Causes Tooth Sensitivity after Teeth Whitening?

The teeth whitening treatment involves the use of a whitening solution, which can cause tooth sensitivity. Though there are different reasons a person may experience increased tooth sensitivity following teeth whitening treatment, one common reason involves the exposure of the tooth's nerve and pulp tissue via dentinal tubules. Dentinal tubules are fluid filled microscopic channels that extend from the surface of the teeth to the center of the teeth, where nerve and pulp tissue reside. Sometimes the solution used to whiten teeth can temporarily dissolve the minerals on the teeth which cover the dentinal tubules and prevent access to the tooth's nerve. When the dentinal tubules are no longer covered, the tooth's nerve is exposed resulting in increased tooth sensitivity.

What Are the Symptoms of Tooth Sensitivity?

Tooth sensitivity may not be immediately noticeable. Often times, tooth sensitivity is only felt when the teeth are exposed to hot or cold foods and drinks. Common symptoms of tooth sensitivity include:

  • Tooth pain or discomfort when eating or drinking hot, cold, sour, or sweet foods.
  • Tooth pain or discomfort when breathing cold air.
  • Sudden shooting pain in the teeth, down to the root.

Tips to Help Relieve Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity following teeth whitening generally lasts one to three days, sometimes longer. For most people, sensitivity decreases over time. Here are some tips to help reduce the symptoms of tooth sensitivity:

  • Use a toothpaste formulated for reducing sensitivity: There are many toothpastes specifically designed to reduce tooth sensitivity. Regularly brushing with a desensitizing toothpaste will help reduce the symptoms associated with sensitive teeth.
  • Use a fluoride-based mouthwash and toothpaste: Fluoride is an essential mineral to maintaining the health of your teeth. Fluoride based mouthwashes and toothpastes can help restore this mineral to your teeth and reduce sensitivity.
  • Use a toothbrush with soft bristles: Medium and hard bristles can be too abrasive for sensitive teeth and can even damage tooth enamel. Soft bristles help preserve vital minerals on your teeth, minerals that aid in closing dentinal tubules.
  • Be mindful of what you eat: Acids, sweet, sour, or extremes between hot and cold foods and drinks can aggravate tooth sensitivity.

Schedule a Consultation with the Dental Associates of New England

The benefits of teeth whitening far outweigh the minimal risk associated with this treatment. For most of our patients in Boston, teeth whitening has no side effects. The few that experience tooth sensitivity are fully recovered within a few days. We welcome you to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced, knowledgeable dentists to find out if teeth whitening is right for you.