American Dental Association Recommendations for Teeth Whitening for Sensitive Teeth

Teeth WhiteningIf you suffer from sensitive teeth, you can still have a professional teeth whitening treatment.  Many people make the easy mistake of thinking that if their teeth are irritated at times, they won’t be able to improve the appearance of their teeth cosmetically.  Understandable as this is, the American Dental Association has conducted some research that addresses this issue. In the ADA’s findings, patients that used a toothpaste containing potassium nitrate for a few weeks prior to the treatment, and afterwards for as long as necessary, had decreased sensitivity and were able to have their teeth whitened without discomfort.  Those with more severe sensitive teeth, they found, could benefit by having potassium nitrate placed into whitening trays and directly onto the teeth for thirty minutes prior to starting the procedure.  This simple step can be completed by a dentist and shouldn’t be done at home.  However, this is perfectly safe when handled by a dentist.

The ADA’s recommendations are incredibly simple, highlighting how non-invasive a teeth whitening procedure really is.  We have found that those who complain of sensitivity after whitening teeth, typically have used an over the counter solution.  There are specific risk factors involved with this that you don’t get when visiting our office.  For example, there is the risk of the bleaching agent being placed in a cavity or on an infected tooth.  Since it is difficult for people to self-diagnose oral health problems, many people will start the treatment without realizing there is an issue that must be corrected first. This risk is eliminated when having the procedure completed professionally because we always examine and inspect your teeth and gums before getting started.  This way if any health issues are present, we can treat them first.

Another reason that people suffer from sensitivity after whitening is overuse.  This is fairly common with over the counter solutions because the bleaching agent isn’t as strong.  While counterintuitive, when people aren’t satisfied with the results, they tend to repeat the procedure or do so more often.  This poses a problem because how much bleach you put on your teeth should be limited and not repeated more than every quarter. Fortunately, having teeth whitened professionally delivers dramatic results so that there is no need to constantly repeat the procedure – one time will do just fine.

The only other main risk for sensitivity is that the bleaching agent leaks onto the gums.  This is fairly common with over the counter products as well.  Since the whitening trays bought in a store are a one-size-fits-all style, they don’t fit anyone perfectly.  They are more likely to become loose and slip out of place.  When the whitening solution starts to leak out, it can get onto the gums and cause significant irritation and discomfort.  When completed in our dental office, teeth whitening is entirely comfortable because there is no risk of leakage, overuse, or the solution being placed on top of cavities.  With that in mind, we recommend following the ADA’s suggestions and visiting our office for your whitening procedure.