If you are familiar with teeth whitening products, you are also usually familiar with the aches and pains that can result from using these products. This taste is caused by the chemicals in bleach, which irritate the nerves of the teeth and make them sensitive. Fortunately, there are several ways to deal with sensitivity caused by teeth whitening products. Keep reading this article to learn about it.
Part 1 of 3: Before Bleaching Process
Step 1. Brush your teeth with a special desensitizing toothpaste (which contains ingredients that help relieve tooth sensitivity) for a few weeks before treatment with a whitening product
Brush your teeth with a desensitizing toothpaste for a few days (or even weeks) before your teeth whitening treatment. “Sensodyne” and “Colgate” brand of “Sensitive Pro Relief” toothpaste are two good choices.
- Brush your teeth with this toothpaste at least twice a day. Use a soft toothbrush to scrub with the toothpaste in a circular motion (not up-down or left-right).
- Ideally, you should brush your teeth for three minutes at a time.
Step 2. Apply a desensitizing gel, liquid or toothpaste for a few days before the whitening treatment
These products usually contain the ingredient potassium nitrate (potassium nitrate), which numbs the nerves of the teeth, thereby reducing their sensitivity. Two good products include the “AcquaSeal” and “Ultra EZ” brands, which can be purchased at drug stores. Use this product before “and” after teeth whitening treatment.
- To use a desensitizing product, apply a small amount of gel, liquid, or toothpaste to a clean cotton swab, then rub the product on the cotton swab against the surface of your teeth.
- Leave the product on your teeth for the amount of time recommended on the package, before you rinse your mouth.
Step 3. Fill the whitening product mat with a desensitizing gel, and place it on your teeth for 30 minutes before whitening
If you're using a pre-filled tray or another special type of mat, one great way to reduce tooth sensitivity is to fill the tray with desensitizing gel, place it on your teeth, and leave it on for 30 minutes before a whitening treatment. Then, rinse your mouth and apply the whitening product.
Make sure that the bleach mat is the right size. These mats should only cover your teeth, not your gums. If mats and whitening products touch the gums, this will cause increased sensitivity to appear
Step 4. Take the painkiller one hour before starting the whitening treatment
During and after bleaching, bleaching agents can irritate the nerves of the teeth, and cause sensitivity and pain. Anti-inflammatory drugs help with pain by numbing the nerves in the teeth.
- Medications such as “Advil” and “Ibuprofen” are usually recommended by dentists, at a dose of 600 mg. Talk to your dentist about the best painkiller and dosage for you.
- Take painkillers an hour before starting the teeth whitening process. You can also take the drug after treatment, if you experience bothersome sensitivity.
Part 2 of 3: During the Bleaching Process
Step 1. Use a self-whitening product for home use with a lower percentage of peroxide
Most home whitening products use hydrogen peroxide as the primary whitening agent. Peroxide makes your teeth more porous and irritates the pulp nerves, causing sensitivity in some people. Thus, teeth whitening products containing low levels of peroxide (5% to 6%) are usually less likely to cause tooth nerve sensitivity.
Step 2. Use teeth whitening products in moderation as recommended, not more
Don't use too many whitening products just because you want to make your teeth whiter. This method will not work and will actually put your gums at greater risk of irritation due to peroxides, namely increased sensitivity, irritation, or even burning.
Step 3. Do not leave the whitening product on the tooth surface for longer than the recommended time
Be careful when leaving the whitening product on your teeth longer than recommended, as this will not make your teeth brighter or whiter, but instead will cause tooth enamel to decay, and ultimately increase sensitivity and pain.
This recommended length of time depends on the percentage of peroxide used, which varies with each whitening product
Step 4. Avoid too frequent teeth whitening treatments
In addition to the things above, you should also avoid using teeth whitening products more often than recommended on the packaging. If the package (or your dentist) recommends that you wait six months before your next treatment, you should wait six months before your next treatment. Follow those recommendations.
Part 3 of 3: After Bleaching Process
Step 1. Avoid hot and cold drinks
After a whitening treatment, your teeth become more porous and very sensitive to temperature, especially during the first 24-48 hours. So, it's better to avoid drinks that are too hot or too cold, otherwise you can experience pain and sensitivity in your teeth that bothers you.
- While you may not feel any pain or sensitivity after the whitening process, exposing your teeth to extreme temperatures means that your teeth are out of shape, and this can lead to more serious problems. It's best to avoid extreme temperatures for at least 48 hours after the bleaching procedure, even if you feel immune to these symptoms.
- Eat food and drinks that are room temperature and try to avoid sodas or acidic foods, as these can also have a negative effect on the nerves of your teeth.
Step 2. Brush your teeth with a soft toothbrush
It is always recommended that you use a soft toothbrush for your teeth, before and after treatment with whitening products.
- A soft toothbrush is good for tooth enamel and will clean your teeth without eroding the brittle and porous surface of the teeth caused by the chemicals in whitening products.
- Remember that you should always brush your teeth before you whiten them, but never brush your teeth after you whiten them. Just clean your teeth with water after your teeth whitening treatment, and wait 30 minutes to 1 hour before you brush your teeth carefully.
Step 3. Use products that contain fluoride to add a mineral coating to the teeth
Using a dental cleaning product that contains fluoride is highly recommended to reduce sensitivity after teeth whitening treatments, as fluoride helps add a mineral layer to the teeth and closes the "pores" that form in tooth enamel during the whitening process.
- Check the ingredients in your toothpaste to make sure it contains fluoride. Other ingredients that are also useful, for example, are potassium nitrate and oxalate. Try not to eat or drink for 30 minutes after brushing your teeth, so the fluoride can work.
- Also look for a mouthwash that contains fluoride. Some examples are “Listerine Fluoride Defense”, “Listerine Fluoride”, “Colgate Neutrafluor” and “Colgate Fluorigard”.
Step 4. Take breaks between teeth whitening treatments, so that your teeth can rest
If you use whitening products, for example in the form of whitening toothpaste and whitening strips, every day, your teeth will usually become too sensitive. Try to give your teeth a break from the whitening treatment for at least a day, so they can recover.
- This recovery time is very important for your teeth and can bring about a significant change in the sensitivity level you experience with your teeth. In fact, you are recommended to reduce the whitening product at each use on the second day, and not to use the same dose over and over again.
- Giving your teeth whitening breaks won't affect the whiteness of your teeth or make the treatment less effective, so there's no need to be afraid to do so.
Step 5. Visit your dentist in case of persistent sensitivity
If tooth sensitivity persists for more than 48 hours after teeth whitening, you should see a dentist.
- Your dentist can examine your teeth to determine whether the sensitivity is due to teeth whitening treatments, or because other factors such as cavities, scratches, or tooth decay are making the condition of the teeth worse.
- If you use a product containing peroxide to whiten your teeth, your dentist will recommend switching to another product with a lower percentage of peroxide or reducing the amount of time you allow the whitening product to stick to the surface of your teeth.