Teeth Whitening Side Effects: Knowing What to Expect

Toronto Teeth Whitening Side Effects

If you live in the Toronto area and have always wanted to have healthier and more attractive smile, it’s important that you visit The Art of Dentistry. Our dental care team uses the latest cosmetic dentistry and restorative dentistry treatments available to enhance the beauty and wellness of our patients.

A number of patients who come to our practice often ask about professional teeth whitening treatment to lift dental stains and tooth discolouration. We’d like to discuss this topic in a bit more detail in this blog post.

About Teeth Whitening Treatments

While whitening systems vary to some degree, the underlying principles behind them are all generally the same.

During a teeth whitening treatment, a patient’s teeth are exposed to a bleaching agent. This bleaching agent helps whiten the enamel of a tooth, which is the topmost layer of the tooth structure. By doing this, patients’ smiles are brightened and enhanced.

Even a basic treatment like teeth whitening has side effects, however. The primary two side effects that we’ll look at are tooth sensitivity and gum irritation.

Tooth Sensitivity and Teeth Whitening: A Common Side Effect

Tooth sensitivity is one of the most common and unavoidable side effects of any sort of teeth whitening treatments. This means both professional in-office therapies as well as at-home whitening strip and whitening tray systems.

To understand why tooth sensitivity occurs, it’s important to consider the structure of the teeth. Beneath the enamel layer is a substance known as dentin. This dentin has many small pores known as tubules that lead into the internal structures of the teeth, conveying sensations of heat, cold, and pressure. When teeth whitening is performed, the bleaching agent penetrates the enamel and triggers acute sensitivity from the tubules, resulting in heightened sensations felt by the treated teeth.

The tooth sensitivity will last for a few days, with the most acute sensitivity felt in the first days after treatment. Thankfully a few things can be done to minimize the degree of sensitivity.

How to Reduce Tooth Sensitivity After Teeth Whitening

If you undergo a professional teeth whitening treatment, tooth desensitizer is often placed as part of treatment. This helps reduce tooth sensitivity during the first day after teeth whitening treatment. In addition to the desensitizer, patients are often given the following tips:

  • Avoid Hot and Cold Foods/Beverages – Hot foods and cold foods will set off alarm bells when they come into contact with your teeth. Stay away from foods like soup and ice cream for two to three days after teeth whitening.
  • Use Lukewarm Water to Rinse Your Mouth – When you gargle or rinse your mouth, use water that’s room temperature to prevent any problems with acute tooth sensitivity.
  • Follow Instructions Carefully – If you are using an at-home product (whether professionally provided or purchased at the store), be sure to follow all instructions to the letter. Overexposure to the bleaching agent or using too much bleaching agent can cause sensitivity.

Gum Irritation and Teeth Whitening: A Less Common Side Effect

While tooth sensitivity is a given after a bleaching treatment, another potential side effect is gum irritation. This includes discomfort and itchy gums after undergoing a bleaching treatment.

The primary reason this occurs is bleaching agent getting onto the patient’s gum tissue and remaining there for too long. The bleaching agent is only intended for the teeth, not the soft tissues of the mouth.

Since gum irritation is less common than tooth sensitivity, it’s thankfully easy to avoid. Should it happen, the side effect should only last two to three days.

How to Prevent Gum Irritation After Teeth Whitening

The two best ways to avoid gum irritation are as follows:

  • Undergo In-Office Teeth Whitening – When you undergo in-office teeth whitening, a dentist and the dental hygienist remain very attentive. Thanks to their supervision, bleaching agent stays where it should.
  • Wipe Away Bleaching Gel on Your Gums as Soon as Possible – If you are using a whitening kit at home and notice bleaching gel get on your gums, simply wipe it away as soon as possible. Doing this prevents gum irritation quite effectively.

Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Sol Weiss

To learn more about your options for removing dental stains and getting your teeth to look their very best, be sure to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry center today. Dr. Sol Weiss and his entire team look forward to your visit and helping you achieve all of your aesthetic goals.