If you’ve ever whitened your teeth in the past, you’re probably familiar with the sensitive, tingly feeling that can result post-treatment. This level of sensitivity will vary from person to person, with some feeling little to no pain and others experiencing stronger discomfort. This is due to the fact that enamel strength can vary greatly from person to person.
Enamel is essentially a thin layer of material that acts as a protective shell over your teeth. Enamel also works to insulate your teeth to prevent sensitivity due to certain temperatures, substances and so on.
Unfortunately, enamel can wear over time for a variety of reasons. (Though this is usually because of particular lifestyle choices). For example, enamel can wear when highly acidic drinks are consumed, when a diet includes a high concentration of sugar, if a person experiences frequent acid reflux and so forth.
Because of this, whitening sensitivity can affect people with enamel-loss even more heavily.
However, there are preventative measures you can take both pre and post treatment to help relieve some of the pain and sensitivity than can accompany teeth whitening.
We’ve compiled a list of our top 10 Tips to Reduce Teeth Sensitivity After Whitening.
Did you know you can actually help your teeth sensitivity before your treatment even begins? Taking the proper precautions pre-treatment can greatly affect the resulting teeth sensitivity post-treatment.
Think of any major procedure or even surgery you’ve experienced in the past. In most of these cases, you probably had to perform some sort of pre-treatment preparation such as fasting, limiting exercise, etc.
Teeth whitening is no different! Though it’s not considered a “major” procedure, you should still make an effort to complete these pretreatment steps to help prevent tooth sensitivity, including:
#1 Pain Medication
Taking an Advil, Ibuprofen or another similar pain medication before the start of your treatment can help prevent any future pain caused by your teeth whitening treatment.
In 99% of cases, any of these pain relievers are safe to use but if you’re uncertain (especially if you are having your treatment done in-office) feel free to speak with your dentist about your medication options.
#2 Brush with Sensitive Toothpastes
Two to three weeks before you begin your whitening treatment, replace your regular toothpaste with a sensitive toothpaste – specifically ones that contain a high concentration of fluoride. Sensodyne, for example, is a great option because it helps to soothe the nerves within your teeth.
#3 Brush Before You Treat
Brushing your teeth before teeth whitening as opposed to immediately after can help to reduce teeth sensitivity. This is because your teeth will already be in a weakened state due to the chemicals in the whitening treatment. Therefore, when you opt to brush afterwards, you can further irritate your teeth and gums. That’s a no-no!
#4 Desensitizing Gel
Before you start with the whitening gel, fill your whitening tray with a desensitizing gel instead. These gels can help to soothe teeth and prepare them for the harsher chemicals of the whitening treatment. Just be sure to completely rinse out the trays before applying the whitening gel!
#5 Tray Placement
After filling them with the whitening gel, take the time to correctly place the trays around your teeth. It’s important to keep the trays in the proper position so that the whitening solution is in contact with your teeth and not your gums. The chemicals in the whitening gel can irritate your gums and may even cause an uncomfortable burning, tingly sensation.
Even if you experience zero pain after the whitening treatment (which is ideal!) it can be beneficial to continue to follow these post-treatment tips. Being cautious about what you consume, how you brush your teeth and so on can help you avoid accidentally irritating your teeth, gums and mouth.
#6 Soft-Bristled Brushes
When you do brush your teeth again after whitening, make an effort to use a soft-bristled toothbrush. If a brush is too rough on your teeth, you may experience uncomfortable or even painful side effects.
In addition, use lukewarm water instead of cold (or even hot) water to rinse and brush.
#7 Avoid Hot and Cold Drinks
In the hours following your whitening treatment, avoid any particularly hot or cold drinks as your teeth will be weakened and more sensitive to temperature. Try to replace these hot/cold drinks with room temperature beverages.
You’ll especially want to avoid coffees and dark sodas in general because they are more likely to stain your newly whitened teeth!
#8 Drink With a Straw
To further aid your teeth whitening efforts, drink your beverages with a straw to avoid having them interact directly with your teeth and gums. (Again – this can also prevent post-treatment stains and discoloration!)
#9 More Fluoride Toothpaste
Just like pre-treatment, it’s important to continue to use fluoride and sensitive toothpastes afterwards as well.
Because fluoride can help to remineralize enamel, these types of toothpaste can strengthen and protect your teeth in the post-treatment process.
#10 Limit How Often You Whiten
Unlike brushing, flossing or rinsing with mouthwash, whitening your teeth is a pretty hefty process and procedure.
While whitening treatments are widely considered to be safe and effective, it is highly recommended that they are only done 1-2 times in a calendar year. Over-whitening can severely (and sometimes permanently) damage your teeth and enamel. So just be cautious!
In short, whitening your teeth is a harmless and successful procedure when you follow the correct pre and post treatment steps listed above.