Are There Any Side Effects to Teeth Whitening?

Tooth whitening is a very common cosmetic treatment to remove staining from the teeth and brighten up your smile. It is often done at home, either with whitening strips or trays containing a bleaching agent, which fit over your teeth. But are there any drawbacks to these techniques?

Tooth Sensitivity

One problem that many patients report is increased sensitivity in the teeth. Mostly people report increased sensitivity to temperature, when eating hot or cold food for example, or sensitivity to air when breathing through the mouth. Fortunately the effect doesn't usually last longer than a day or two; if the discomfort is too much, you can temporarily stop the treatment or move to a lower concentration of the whitener. You can also alleviate the sensitivity by using a toothpaste made specially for sensitive teeth and by taking an anti-inflammatory such as ibuprofen.

Gum Inflammation

Another common problem is that the gums can become irritated by the whitener. This is most common with whitening strips, which may not fit perfectly and come into contact with the gums, or with stock trays from a bleaching kit. It is very unlikely to happen if you have your whitening done by a cosmetic dentist, as they will be able to protect your gums and ensure the bleach only comes in contact with the tooth.

If you find your gums become irritated by whitening, you can do the same as with sensitive teeth: stop the treatment temporarily while they recover, and switch to a lower concentration. You should also consider using custom-made trays for whitening. These are made in a dental laboratory and are designed specifically to fit your own teeth, so their edges should not cover your gums.

Unhealthy Teeth

If your teeth are not in good shape to begin with, whitening is unlikely to work and can cause discomfort. Any of the bleaching agent that finds its way into a cavity can cause enormous pain. You should therefore make sure that any dental problems are fixed by a dentist before you begin the whitening process.

If you do experience any problems, you should let your dentist know immediately. And there is one way to guarantee that any discomfort kept to a minimum — get your whitening done by a professional cosmetic dentist who will know how to avoid any problems and will be able to tailor your treatment to your own individual needs