Until recently, cosmetic dentistry experts didn’t recommend professional teeth whitening treatments or store-bought whitening kits for people with dental sensitivity.
The reason? Bleaching agents in clinical-strength whitening gels can briefly increase the permeability of your tooth enamel, creating nonpermanent microscopic channels that expose the underlying dentin and nerve layer and temporarily make your teeth even more sensitive.
Luckily, new and improved professional whitening formulas and techniques have made attaining a brighter smile safer, gentler, and more comfortable than ever — as long as you talk with your dentist beforehand and avoid store-bought whitening products.
At EZ Dental Clinic in Bellevue, Washington, our expert team offers fully customized teeth whitening solutions that aim to deliver beautiful results without making your teeth feel even more sensitive. Here’s how it works.
First, a comprehensive dental exam
During a smile consultation at EZ Dental Clinic, we conduct a comprehensive dental exam to ensure professional whitening is for you.
Besides checking your oral health and dental work (crowns, bridges, veneers, tooth-colored fillings, and dental implants can’t be brightened with whitening agents), we ask about tooth sensitivity and determine its source.
About 80% of tooth sensitivity starts at the gumline, not within the tooth itself. In fact, many cases of tooth sensitivity are actually warning signs of early gum disease (gingivitis) or more advanced gum disease (periodontitis). Other causes of tooth sensitivity include:
- Worn or thinning tooth enamel
- Cracked or chipped enamel
- Untreated tooth decay or infection
If we notice that your dental sensitivity results from an underlying cause like gingivitis, we recommend treating that problem before you whiten your teeth.
Your customized whitening treatment
At EZ Dental Clinic, we offer professional-level whitening treatments in the form of customized take-home trays and whitening gels.
We fabricate your custom trays with impressions of your teeth for a perfect fit, then prepare the clinical-strength whitening gel to precise specifications based on your treatment goals and level of dental sensitivity.
Our professional whitening system is designed to help you get a brighter, more luminous smile from the comfort of your home. Your level of discoloration, whitening goals, and dental sensitivity are the primary factors we consider when developing your treatment plan.
To help ensure your whitening treatment doesn’t aggravate or worsen your dental sensitivity, we carefully balance the level of bleaching agents in the gel to provide the best possible results while minimizing its potential sensitizing effects on your enamel.
We also limit how long you wear your whitening trays for the same reason. While people with less-sensitive enamel may wear their trays overnight, we may direct you to wear yours for 30-60 minutes a day for up to two weeks.
Pre-whitening preventive measures
If you’d like to reduce your risk of increased dental sensitivity after your whitening treatment, there are preventive measures you can take before you wear your trays each day:
- Use desensitizing toothpaste for at least two weeks before you start whitening
- Continue to brush with desensitizing toothpaste through the whitening process
- Apply (and rinse away) a desensitizing gel before you wear your whitening trays
You might also consider taking an over-the-counter pain reliever to help preempt any increased sensitivity you might experience when you wear your trays or immediately after.
Post-whitening management strategies
If, like many people, you still experience mild, increased dental sensitivity after your whitening treatment, you can manage your discomfort, shorten its duration, and diminish its intensity by:
- Brushing your teeth gently and rinsing with lukewarm water
- Using fluoridated toothpaste or mouthwash to remineralize and fortify your enamel
- Continuing to brush with a desensitizing (and fluoridated) toothpaste
- Applying desensitizing gel as needed for a few days after your treatment
Also, stick with room temperature meals, avoid acidic foods and drinks that can feel corrosive on sensitive enamel, and use straws to prevent discomfort when drinking cold beverages.
If you have questions about dental sensitivity before, during, or after a professional whitening treatment, call or click online to book a whitening consultation at EZ Dental Clinic today.