Will Sensitivity Interfere with My Candidacy for Teeth Whitening?

By Dr. Nathaniel Podilsky on February 10, 2020

Young man sits with teeth whitening light pointed toward his mouthProfessional teeth whitening treatments at our Edmonton, AB, dental practice can lift stains from your enamel. One common side effect of this non-invasive treatment is heightened sensitivity. If your teeth are sensitive, our doctors can take steps to lower sensitivity before and after your procedure. Some patients who have extreme dental sensitivity may want to consider a less concentrated at-home whitening option rather than professional teeth whitening treatments that are performed in-office. Here, we discuss more about sensitivity and teeth whitening.

Sensitivity before Teeth Whitening

If you frequently experience discomfort, which can present as sharp discomfort when eating or drinking hot foods and drinks, you likely have sensitive teeth. Patients who regularly experience sensitivity should inform our doctors so we can recommend the appropriate treatment option.

In extreme cases, alternative treatments for discoloration may be recommended. While the exact cause of teeth sensitivity can vary, the active bleaching agent used in professional whitening treatments (peroxide) is known to irritate tooth nerves in some individuals.

There are special types of toothpaste that address sensitivity. Using these products in the days or weeks before undergoing professional teeth whitening can allow you to avoid unpleasant side effects after your cosmetic procedure.

If you are not considered a good candidate for professional whitening, don’t worry. Our dental team can recommend whitening products that contain lower concentrations of peroxide. If you have specific areas of discoloration, tooth-colored dental bonding or veneers can cover those areas of discoloration. We have helped many patients with sensitive enjoy the benefits of a whiter smile.

Sensitivity after Teeth Whitening

Heightened sensitivity after teeth whitening is fairly common. For most patients, any heightened sensitivity will naturally dissipate within a day or two of undergoing cosmetic treatment. Our office offers in-office and take-home whitening kits. If you do opt to perform your whitening treatments in the convenience of your home, be sure to follow the guidelines carefully.

With each take-home kit, we will provide a recommended period of time that the bleaching gel should be left on. Leaving the bleaching agent on for longer than directed will not deliver better results, and it could leave your teeth feeling uncomfortably sensitive.

Tips for avoiding discomfort after teeth whitening include:

  • Taking Aleve or other pain medications before beginning your whitening treatment
  • Taking extra time between at-home whitening treatments
  • Taking a break from at-home whitening treatments until your sensitivity fully subsides
  •  Avoiding cold food and drinks for a few days after your cosmetic treatment
  • Using a special toothpaste for sensitive teeth
  • Using a soft-bristled toothbrush
  • Asking your dentist for special desensitizing products to be taken after treatment

No matter how unpleasant your sensitivity may be, any minor side effects typically resolve within a day or two. If you are experiencing sensitivity a few days after your treatment, please let our office know.

Schedule Your Cosmetic Consultation Today

Sensitivity following teeth whitening treatment is common. Fortunately, sensitivity issues are typically mild and do not last long. If you have concerns about your ability to undergo teeth whitening treatment, our doctors can explain what your options are to reduce sensitivity. Most patients are able to enjoy the benefits of in-office or take-home whitening treatments. To schedule your cosmetic consultation, please contact our office online or call (780) 900-6434.

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