When you come in to the dentist's office for a teeth-whitening procedure, you probably have a few expectations: a whiter smile; a calm, relaxing environment; and an attentive, professional staff. What you may not expect is tooth sensitivity. But many patients experience this side effect during or after a whitening procedure. While for some the pain is manageable and only temporary, for others it can last from several minutes to several days. If you are considering a whitening procedure and either have experienced sensitivity in the past, or would like to reduce your risk of experiencing it in the future, try these tips before you whiten.
Clean First, Bleach Second
Before you invest your time and money in a whitening treatment, make sure your dentist is only whitening your teeth and not your plaque! Whitening works best on freshly cleaned teeth, so try to schedule your whitening treatment as close to your dental cleaning as possible. Speak to your dentist about how to time this. On the day of your cleaning, arrive with clean teeth. Try to brush no sooner than an hour before your whitening, and brush gently! Do not have anything to eat or drink besides water prior to your treatment.
Talk to Your Dentist
If you have experienced sensitivity in the past, or are concerned about experiencing it with your next treatment, speak to your dentist about what you can do to reduce your risk of sensitivity prior to your procedure. Your dentist can apply a varnish that reduces sensitivity or can use a lower concentration of bleach during the procedure and leave it on for a shorter duration than normal to reduce risk of sensitivity.
Cut Back on At-Home Bleach
If you are considering an in-office whitening treatment and you're currently using toothpaste or white strips that contain peroxide at home, you can reduce the risk of sensitivity by cutting back on the use of at-home peroxide products for a few weeks prior to your appointment.
While many people will achieve the results they want in just one in-office whitening treatment, if you’re not 100 percent satisfied with the level of whitening you achieved on the first try, you can schedule more sessions. But if you experience sensitivity after the first one, we recommend you wait a little longer between treatments to give your teeth time to recuperate.
Keep Up Your Aftercare
There’s nothing that will make a whitening treatment go bad like not paying attention to the aftercare instructions. Most dentists recommend you eat only white or light-colored foods for the first 24 hours following treatment. A good rule of thumb is, if it will stain a white shirt, it will stain your teeth in those critical 24 hours (so no marinara, red wine or coffee!). Another way to minimize sensitivity following treatment is to avoid extremes - so, try to avoid hot soups or teas (even if they’re clear), as well as ice cream, smoothies or other very cold drinks and foods. You may also want to use peroxide-free, sensitive toothpaste for the first day or so after your treatment, just to be safe.
If you have any questions or concerns about your whitening treatment, please give Dr. Abelar’s office a call at 858-866-9692.