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Teeth Whitening: 3 Side Effects and How to Deal with Them

By Stephen Rogers on July 07, 2014

A young man smiling while outdoorsAt Greater Long Island Dental here in Massapequa, we take all treatments seriously and let patients know about the side effects involved and potential risks each procedure poses. This allows patients to have realistic expectations about care.

Teeth whitening is a popular way to get a smile that looks its brightest, and while it's simple and great for getting rid of dental stains, it's not without side effects. Let's look at the side effects right now.

What is teeth whitening treatment?

Whether you undergo professional teeth whitening or use an at-home teeth whitening product that you've purchased over-the-counter at the local store, the principles of teeth whitening are generally the same.

During a teeth whitening treatment, the enamel of the teeth is exposed to a bleaching gel. This bleaching gel helps whiten stains on the tooth structure itself. Professional whitening uses much stronger bleaching gels, which means results are faster and more dramatic when you meet with your cosmetic dentist for care.

Side Effect #1: Teeth Whitening and Tooth Sensitivity

The most common side effect of teeth whitening is tooth sensitivity. When whitening is performed, it penetrates the enamel and triggers these little pores in the dentin layer of the tooth known as tubules. These tubules are responsible for carrying sensations down into the tooth root. When made more sensitive because of teeth whitening, patients will notice that they have a low tolerance for hot or cold foods and beverages.

Thankfully this tooth sensitivity only lasts a few days, with the major sensitivity occurring in the first day or so.

Tips for Minimizing Tooth Sensitivity After Teeth Whitening

In order to minimize the discomfort to your teeth after you undergo whitening, you should avoid any foods and beverages that are too hot or too cold. Instead, eat and drink things that are room temperature. When you gargle, use lukewarm water.

When it comes to at-home teeth whitening, be sure to only wear your whitening strips or use your whitening trays for the duration noted in the instructions. Wearing strips or trays longer than instructed can lead to more acute tooth sensitivity.

If you undergo professional teeth whitening, your dentist will usually place a tooth desensitizer on your teeth to help mitigate the sensitivity you will experience on the first day.

Side Effect #2: Teeth Whitening and Gum Irritation

Another side effect that many people experience after teeth whitening is gum irritation. This happens when the bleaching agent gets on the gums rather than staying on the teeth. When this happens, you will notice that your gums feel tender or disturbed in some way, and it can be annoying and uncomfortable for a day or so.

Tips for Preventing Gum Irritation from Teeth Whitening

If you are performing at-home teeth whitening, be extra careful where the whitening gel winds up. If you do get whitening gel on your gums, don't panic. Simply wipe off the bleaching gel from your gums using a clean cotton swab.

When undergoing professional teeth whitening, issues with gum irritation are less likely since the procedure is professionally administered and monitored. The dentist and hygienist will make sure things go smoothly.

Side Effect #3: Teeth Whitening and Addiction to Bleaching

Perhaps more of a complication than a side effect, sometimes people will become addicted to teeth whitening treatment. When this happens, a person may undergo multiple teeth whitening treatments when they are unnecessary, believing that their teeth at not quite white as they should be.

Tips for Avoiding Addiction to Teeth Whitening

When it comes to at-home teeth whitening, it's important that people follow instructions closely and only use items as directed. By following instructions, you will prevent major issues down the road with overuse. If you notice someone exhibiting troubling signs of teeth whitening addiction, be sure to discuss this with them.

It's more difficult for teeth whitening addiction to occur with professional care. This is because your dentist and hygienist will ensure that you only have your teeth whitened a healthy amount. Overbleaching or unnecessary bleaching will not be allowed by skilled professionals.

Contact Our Greater Long Island Dental

For more information about teeth whitening and how it can help you achieve optimal results, we encourage you to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry practice today. The entire team here looks forward to meeting you in person and helping you have a beautiful smile that's healthy as well.

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Massapequa Office

101 New York Ave
Massapequa, NY 11758

Open Today 9:00am - 9:00pm

More Info Directions (516) 468-7103