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Why Do You Get Sensitive Teeth When Whitening Them?

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2nd October 2023

Why Do You Get Sensitive Teeth When Whitening Them?

As a trusted healthcare provider in the heart of Clapham Common, Crescent Lodge Dental Practice has been catering to the oral health needs of the community for decades. Our team of dedicated and skilled professionals takes pride in delivering top-tier dental care services. Being a leading dental practice, we believe in educating our patients about dental concerns and treatments, fostering a comfortable environment.

At Crescent Lodge Dental Practice, we understand the significance of a radiant smile and the confidence it brings. Therefore, we offer a wide range of cosmetic dentistry services, including teeth whitening, to help you achieve that perfect smile. However, we also understand that certain procedures might lead to discomfort, like tooth sensitivity during whitening. In this blog post, we aim to address this concern and provide a comprehensive understanding of why it occurs and how we manage it.

What is Teeth Whitening?

Teeth whitening is a popular cosmetic dental procedure aimed at lightening the teeth and removing stains and discolouration. It’s one of the most effective ways to improve how your teeth look. Teeth whitening doesn’t involve any surgical procedures. Instead, it uses a whitening agent, usually containing peroxide, to bleach the teeth, making them several shades lighter than before.

While teeth whitening can be done at home using over-the-counter products, professional teeth whitening performed by a dentist is safer and yields more effective results. At Crescent Lodge Dental Practice, we use a state-of-the-art teeth whitening system that guarantees a significantly brighter smile in just one visit.

However, it’s essential to understand that teeth whitening isn’t a one-time procedure. You will have to repeat it from time to time if you want to maintain a brighter colour. Sometimes, this repetition can lead to tooth sensitivity.

sour, cold and hot sensitivity teeth. Clapham Common dental practice

Explaining Tooth Sensitivity

Tooth sensitivity is a common dental issue involving discomfort or tooth pain when encountered with certain substances and temperatures. Imagine a sudden, sharp jolt of pain when you sip your morning coffee or bite into an ice cream; that’s tooth sensitivity.

Sensitive teeth when the tooth’s protective layers, the enamel and cementum, wear off, exposing the underlying layer called dentin. Dentin contains tiny tubules that lead to the tooth’s nerve centre, the pulp. When dentin gets exposed, these tubules allow heat, cold, acidic or sticky foods to reach the nerves and cells inside the tooth, causing sensitivity.

While tooth sensitivity can result from several factors, including tooth decay, worn fillings, gum disease, fractured teeth, worn tooth enamel, or exposed tooth root, it can also occur after teeth whitening.

Why Teeth Sensitivity Occurs During Whitening

Whitening treatments, both professional and at-home ones, involve the use of peroxide-based bleaching agents. While these bleaching agents are effective in breaking stains to make the teeth whiter, they may also penetrate the enamel to reach the dentin layer of the tooth. This penetration might result in increased tooth sensitivity.

The peroxide in the whitening agent can temporarily open up the tubules in the dentin, exposing them to external stimuli, hence leading to sensitivity. The extent of sensitivity can vary from person to person, depending on the condition of the teeth, the concentration of the whitening product, and the duration of treatment.

At Crescent Lodge Dental Practice, we always ensure that teeth whitening is done under carefully controlled conditions, minimising the chances of sensitivity.

Prevention and Treatment of Teeth Sensitivity Post Whitening

The good news is that sensitive teeth caused by teeth whitening are typically temporary and disappear within a few days after the treatment. However, there are ways to prevent or minimize sensitivity during this period.

Firstly, if you are considering teeth whitening, it’s essential to have a dental check-up to ensure your teeth and gums are healthy. If you have any existing dental issues like cavities or gum disease, you should have these treated before teeth whitening as they can cause or increase sensitivity.

Secondly, using sensitive toothpaste before and after the whitening treatment can help. These toothpastes contain ingredients like potassium nitrate or strontium chloride, which help block the transmission of pain signals from the tooth surface to the nerve.

Lastly, avoid consuming very hot or cold foods for a few days after the whitening treatment. If sensitive teeth persists for more than a few days, it’s advisable to consult a dentist.

Click here to contact our team at Crescent Lodge Dental Practice!