Teeth whitening procedures are a common method to restoring the natural brightness of a person’s smile that otherwise has become dull; perhaps through drinking dark liquids, such as tea or coffee, or smoking tobacco.
Teeth whitening can be done using special kits that can be bought over the counter; however, these over-the-counter home kits often don’t give the best results. Teeth whitening performed by a cosmetic dentist yields far more satisfactory results, as whitening solutions and the trays used to administer the treatments are often customized to best match the patient’s requirements.
Teeth whitening treatments work by ‘bleaching’ the stains on a patient’s teeth, and this can lead to tooth sensitivity in some patients. The sensitivity following tooth whitening is caused by the chemical in tooth whitening solutions – peroxide – which for a short time makes enamel more porous, and so the dentin underneath becomes more exposed to hot and cold. The trays used in at-home kits can often apply orthodontic pressure on a patient’s teeth, which can leave teeth feeling sore.
Treating tooth sensitivity prior to having the whitening treatment is a good idea, especially if you already suffer from sensitive teeth. Under examination, a dentist can ascertain why a patient’s teeth are sensitive and recommend treatments to reduce the sensations experienced by hot and cold food and drink. The most common causes of tooth sensitivity include exposed dentin caused by cavities to gum recession and bruxism.
In most cases, sensitivity caused by teeth whitening is a temporary phenomenon and the symptoms usually subside after a few days. Those who experience sensitivity during or after whitening can use medication such as ibuprofen, or a desensitizing toothpaste.
As always, consult a cosmetic dentist who can advise on the best methods of preventing sensitivity regardless of whether the whitening procedure is to be done professionally, or by using an at-home kit.
For more information on teeth whitening options, contact our downtown Toronto team at 416-922-1012 to schedule a consultation.