Dealing with Three Potential Side Effects of Teeth Whitening
Teeth bleaching may be very popular, but it does have some potential side effects you need to be aware of before taking the plunge. Here are three examples of such side effects and how you should deal with them.
Heightened Tooth Sensitivity
Dental bleaching may cause your teeth to be more sensitive than they were before the treatment. Bleaching increases your teeth sensitivity because it makes your enamel (the hard outer layer of the teeth) more permeable, and that exposes the dentin (tooth layer underneath the enamel). The enamel is filled with nerves, which means its exposure will make your teeth more responsive to irritants, such as heat and cold.
Take the following precautions to prevent hypersensitivity due to bleaching.
- Treat any existing dental problems that may cause hypersensitivity before whitening your teeth. Examples of relevant problems include recessed gums and cavities.
- Get your teeth whitened by a professional dentist; if you must use at-home bleaching, ensure your products have been approved by the American Dental Association. You can also ask your dentist for recommendations.
If you have already bleached your teeth, and they are sensitive, you can deal with it by using toothpaste for sensitive teeth. It also helps to avoid hot and cold food until the sensitivity subsides.
A small increase in sensitivity is to be expected after bleaching, but it should be temporary. Therefore, consult your dentist for help if your teeth don't lose their heightened sensitivity or it lasts for more than a few days.
Teeth bleaching can also make your gums appear pale and even a little irritated; this is what dentists call blanching. Gingival blanching occurs when the gum's blood flow is obstructed. In the case of teeth whitening, it is the bleaching agents that interfere with blood flow in our gums.
Although gingival blanching is temporary, you can use the following tips to hasten the relief:
- Rinse your mouth thoroughly to get rid of any remnants of the bleaching product in your mouth.
- Moisturize your gums to minimize irritation.
Go back to your dentist if your blanching doesn't resolve itself after a few days.
Lastly, you may also experience allergic reactions to your chosen dental bleaching product. It's possible to be allergic to peroxide, which is the main bleaching agent in bleaching products, without knowing that you are. Signs that you are allergic to peroxide include irritated lips and gums (more severe than in the case of blanching) and blisters on the lips.
A skin test may reveal your sensitivity to the bleaching product before using it. Follow the skin-test directions indicated on the product's packaging. However, this isn't a fail-safe test, since your oral tissues may be more sensitive than your skin. Consult your cosmetic dentist if you develop allergic reactions after bleaching.