How to Manage Tooth Sensitivity After Teeth Whitening

How to Manage Tooth Sensitivity After Teeth Whitening

Professional “chairside” teeth whitening treatments and clinical-grade take-home whitening kits are two of the safest, most effective ways to get a bright, luminous smile you can’t wait to share. 

It’s not uncommon for people to experience mild to moderate tooth sensitivity issues after a whitening treatment. Luckily, these effects are usually temporary, and there’s a lot you can do to curtail them.

At Cherry Family Dental in San Jose, California, our seasoned team of cosmetic dentistry experts wants you to get the best possible whitening results with the least possible discomfort. With that in mind, Dr. Misty Henne and Dr. Chloe Chu have put together a quick list of dos and don’ts to help you minimize and manage tooth sensitivity after your whitening treatment. 

Post-whitening dental sensitivity 

While store-bought whitening kits are far more likely to cause lingering dental sensitivity issues, many people experience vary degrees of temporary tooth sensitivity after in-office whitening treatments. Common reasons include:

Increased permeability

The bleaching agents in whitening gels can briefly increase the permeability of your tooth enamel, creating temporary microscopic channels that expose the underlying dentin and nerve layer. You may only notice this effect when you draw in cold air or when hot or cold foods and liquids come in contact with your teeth.

Gum tissue contact

You may experience gum irritation and dental sensitivity if the whitening gel somehow comes in contact with your gum tissues during your treatment.

Tight whitening trays

If you use a take-home whitening kit with custom trays, you may develop dental sensitivity if the trays are a little too tight for your teeth or if you wear them for longer than recommended. 

Pre-treatment preventive measures

If you’d like to minimize the degree of dental sensitivity you experience after your whitening treatment, there are a few preventive measures you can take before your appointment: 

Use desensitizing toothpaste

If you don’t already use a desensitizing toothpaste, doing so for at least two weeks before your whitening session can help minimize post-treatment sensitivity. Desensitizing toothpaste helps block pain signals from the surface of your tooth to its inner nerve. 

Apply a desensitizing gel 

You can also buy a desensitizing gel to apply to your teeth just before your appointment. Simply use as directed, leave it on your teeth for the instructed time, and rinse it with water. Our team can recommend specific desensitizing products if you’re unsure what to get.

Take an OTC pain reliever

Taking an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever like ibuprofen or acetaminophen before your whitening session can help minimize dental sensitivity and discomfort during your treatment; it can also help you manage any post-treatment that may emerge. 

Post-treatment management steps

If you experience mild to moderate dental sensitivity after your whitening treatment, the following strategies can help you manage your discomfort, shorten its duration, and diminish its intensity:

Brush very gently 

When dealing with dental sensitivity, brush gently with a soft-bristled toothbrush. An electric toothbrush with a “sensitive” mode can be very helpful. Rinse with lukewarm water to minimize discomfort.

Use fluoridated products 

Fluoride is a tooth-protecting mineral that remineralizes your enamel to help block the pain signals to your oral nerves that make your teeth feel sensitive. Using fluoridated toothpaste and/or mouthwash can give you this benefit.

Use desensitizing products 

Continuing to brush with desensitizing (and fluoridated) toothpaste after your treatment can help you reduce any lingering discomfort. Alternatively, you can apply a desensitizing gel for a few days.

Stick with room temperature meals

Most people experience a greater degree of dental sensitivity the first day or two after a whitening treatment. During this time, it can be very helpful to stick with room temperature foods and beverages and avoid eating or drinking anything that’s very hot or cold.

Steer clear of acidic foods and drinks

Orange juice, lemonade, citrus fruits, tomatoes, tomato sauce, beer, carbonated drinks, and fizzy sodas have one thing in common — they’re acidic. Acidic foods and beverages can have a corrosive effect on tooth enamel that’s even more affecting when dealing with sensitivity.

Use a drinking straw

If you don’t want to forego cold beverages after your whitening treatment, drinking through a straw can help keep the liquid away from your teeth and prevent discomfort. 

Customized whitening treatments

At Cherry Family Dental, we offer customized teeth whitening treatments to meet your needs. Whether you already have sensitive teeth or want to minimize your risk of developing dental discomfort, we can adjust your treatment plan accordingly.

If you have questions about dental sensitivity after a professional whitening treatment, we have answers. Call 669-238-2357 today, or use our easy online booking feature to schedule a visit at Cherry Family Dental any time. 

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