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What Are the Side Effects of Teeth Whitening Treatment?

Dr. Hellwig Nov 24, 2016

Teeth whitening treatmentThere's so many reasons to smile if you live in San Diego. We always stress that to patients at our practice. If they suffer from stains or discoloration, we can restore that smile thanks to professional teeth whitening sessions. Just one bleaching session can brighten the teeth up to seven entire shades.

While teeth whitening is effective, it does have a few side effects. Let's take a moment to consider what these side effects are and how they can be managed.

How Teeth Whitening Treatment Works

While teeth whitening systems can vary to a certain degree, the basic principle is generally the same. Even more sophisticated at-home systems resemble professional care to a certain degree.

During a teeth whitening treatment, a special bleaching agent is applied to the teeth. This bleaching agent penetrates into the enamel, bleaching the tooth structure itself. Sometimes a special laser light is used to help activate the bleaching gel and improve the results of the procedure.

It's a common misconception that the stain is removed, but rather the tooth itself is whitened. Multiple sessions may be necessary to achieve sufficient whitening results.

Tooth Sensitivity After Teeth Whitening

Tooth sensitivity is one of the most common side effects after teeth whitening treatment. In the process of penetrating the enamel and whitening the tooth structure, the bleaching agent also causes the pores in the underlying dentin layer of the tooth to become more sensitive. This causes people to notice greater pressure and discomfort when biting, chewing, or having foods or beverage that are hot or cold in temperature. In some cases, the sensitivity can be quite serious.

How Long Will Tooth Sensitivity Last?

Thankfully the tooth sensitivity is manageable and only temporary. For most teeth whitening patients, they will only experience tooth sensitivity for a few days after their whitening session. Each following day, the tooth sensitivity should be less pronounced.

Dealing with Temporary Tooth Sensitivity

When experiencing tooth sensitivity after teeth whitening, the best thing a patient can do is avoid hot or col foods and beverages. By eating foods that are generally room temperature, a great deal of discomfort can be avoided. Eating softer foods or less chewy foods can also help reduce pain related to the pressure placed on sensitive teeth.

Potential Gum Irritation

Gum irritation is another potential side effects of teeth whitening, though far less common than tooth sensitivity. This is the result of bleaching agent getting onto the gums and not be cleaned in a timely manner. When this happens, the gums can feel itchy or sore since the bleaching agent is intended to make contact with the teeth only rather than the gum tissue.

How Long Will Gum Irritation Last?

Like tooth sensitivity, the gum irritation is only temporary. In some cases, the irritation will only last a day or so, though this depends on the amount of bleaching agent that got on the gums and how long it was allowed to remain there.

Preventing Gum Irritation

Gum irritation is easily prevented during professional, in-office treatments. A dentist or the hygienist carefully monitors the process, and they can wipe away any excess bleaching agent before it poses and issues to the gums.

If you're using bleaching systems at home, it's important to follow the instructions closely and avoid using too much of the teeth whitening gel. This avoid getting the gel on your gums and can also help prevent more serious cases of tooth sensitivity.

Learn More About Teeth Whitening Treatment

For more information about teeth whitening and whether or not it is right for you, be sure to contact our advanced cosmetic and restorative dentistry center today. The team at our practice will help you have a healthy and beautiful smile.

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