Will teeth whitening cause tooth sensitivity?

Some patients who consult with a cosmetic dentist to improve the shade of their smile may have concerns that bleaching treatment will result in tooth sensitivity. While this can be a side effect of teeth whitening treatments, it is usually temporary and resolves within a matter of days.

Teeth whitening treatments work by penetrating the surface of the teeth in order for the bleaching agent to release stains and brighten the shade of the teeth. This process temporarily exposes the sensitive dentin underlying the tooth’s enamel layer, which can result in sensitivity.

Additionally, for long-term results, teeth whitening treatments need to be repeated periodically as the teeth will become stained, more dull and discolored again over time. Patients may notice that the sensitivity brought on by tooth whitening treatments is cumulative. That is, it may get more noticeable or troublesome over time. You can work with your cosmetic dentist to take steps to reduce this tooth sensitivity, however.

For example, if your teeth are already rather sensitive going into your teeth whitening treatment, your cosmetic dentist may recommend that you use a toothpaste specifically formulated for sensitive teeth.

When the bleaching agent comes into contact with the gum tissue, the patient may also experience some discomfort. However, working with a professional provider to get your teeth whitening can limit the likelihood of this situation. A professional treatment uses trays with an improved fit (in comparison to over-the-counter trays) to expose the teeth to the bleaching gel.

Additionally, a system like Zoom! teeth whitening activates the bleaching gel using specialized lasers, which allows the treatment to leave your teeth 8-10 shades whiter in about an hour. Less direct exposure to the bleaching gel may also reduce tooth sensitivity.

Do you have concerns about the possibility of tooth sensitivity that are standing in the way of getting a whiter, brighter smile? Talk to our team at Southern Hills Dental about the steps you can take to reduce this sensitivity and get the treatment that you desire.

Nathan Muaina

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