Does Teeth Whitening Cause Tooth Sensitivity?

Teeth whitening is a gentle, effective treatment that can lift years of dental stains and reveal a more vibrant, rejuvenated smile. Teeth whitening may be combined with restorative dentistry treatments to completely rejuvenate and restore the smile. Although teeth whitening is safe, it can leave some patients with a temporary increase in tooth sensitivity after treatment. To find out more about teeth whitening and tooth sensitivity, schedule a consultation with Wilmington, DE dentists Paul E. Brown, Chris S. Baran, and Mark B. Brown.

What Causes Tooth Sensitivity after Teeth Whitening?

Tooth sensitivity is a possible side effect after teeth whitening and is most often caused by the bleaching solution used to whiten teeth. This solution can remove minerals within the enamel and cause the teeth to become temporarily porous, exposing micro tubules within the teeth.

These tubules, called dentinal tubules, are microscopic channels that lead from the surface of the teeth to the center of the teeth, where the dental nerves are housed. When dentinal tubules are exposed, dental sensitivity will increase. Minerals generally replenish on the teeth within a few days of teeth whitening, and once the minerals are restored, tooth sensitivity typically resolves.

The Symptoms of Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity after teeth whitening may be mild to moderate, while some patients may not experience any increase in tooth sensitivity after treatment. For most, tooth sensitivity is only felt when breathing cold air or eating hot or cold foods and drinks. Acidic, sugary foods can also trigger tooth sensitivity. Some of the most common symptoms of tooth sensitivity include:

  • Sudden shooting pain in the teeth that may extend down to the roots
  • Sudden tooth pain when the teeth are exposed to temperature fluctuations
  • Tooth pain when eating sweet, sour, or acidic foods

Alleviating Tooth Sensitivity after Teeth Whitening

In most cases, tooth sensitivity after teeth whitening is short-lived and will resolve within a few days after treatment. Although sensitivity will usually resolve on its own, there are steps you can take to help alleviate tooth sensitivity in the interim, such as:

  • Use sensitive formula toothpaste: Switch to sensitive formula toothpastes to help desensitize the teeth and reduce painful tooth sensitivity.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush: Soft-bristled toothbrushes are gentler on the enamel than medium or hard-bristled brushes, allowing minerals to rebuild within the enamel.
  • Rinse and brush with fluoride based products: Fluoride is an important mineral for dental health. Using fluoride-based mouthwash and toothpaste can help restore minerals to the teeth, closing dentinal tubules and reducing tooth sensitivity.
  • Avoid certain foods and drinks: Acidic, sweet, or sour foods can increase tooth sensitivity and should be avoided.
  • Stick to room temperature food and drinks: Stick to lukewarm or room temperature foods and drinks to prevent dental pain from tooth sensitivity.

Schedule a Consultation

For more information about tooth sensitivity after teeth whitening, or to discover your treatment options, we invite you to schedule a consultation with our team today.

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