Teeth whitening in our Bartlett dental office, which is generally considered very safe and mild, carries a risk of primarily temporary side effects, including tooth sensitivity, gum irritation or aesthetic problems with uneven whitening.
A portion of the people who use whitening products, either over-the-counter or in your dentist’s office, experience some small degree of tooth sensitivity or gum irritation during the course of their treatments. In severe cases, a dentist may recommend that a particular patient skip any whitening procedure to prevent a problem.
The concentration of the peroxide used and the length of time the whitening product is applied appears to be directly related to the risk of sensitivity after use. In general, these side effects are temporary and will abate after one or two days.
If you are using an at-home product, be sure to follow the recommendations of the manufacturer. Overuse of a whitening product is not healthy for your teeth or gum tissues, and can lead to greater sensitivity over time.
Tooth sensitivity can lead to discomfort or pain in the teeth when exposed to hot or cold liquids and food, or sweet or sour foods or drinks. Even air or the touch of your tongue can lead to discomfort. Mild discomfort is normal and should disappear within a day or two of treatment.
Gum irritation may be caused by chemicals in the whitening process or by physical problems with the whitening trays. The latter is most likely the result of over-the-counter whitening kits; custom-fitted trays that come from your dentist are more likely to fit properly and to minimize gum irritation.
Gum irritation and tooth sensitivity caused by whitening can be stopped by discontinuing the use of the whitening products for several days. You may want to decrease the time you spend using the product, or you may want to use less of the product in the trays.
Your teeth may not whiten evenly, leading to discoloration or splotches on your teeth. Whitening products do not work on teeth covered in plaque or debris. Having your teeth professionally cleaned prior to a whitening procedure can ensure a more even result.