Professional tooth whitening is an invaluable service for improving the appearance of your smile. However, some patients experience uncomfortable sensitivity for a few days or weeks after the procedure. Here are three tips that can help you manage sensitivity after in-office tooth whitening.
Tooth whitening can lead to sensitivity because it partially lifts a protective layer over your teeth known as the dental pellicle. The pellicle is a thin film of proteins that protects your dental enamel from acids and abrasions and insulates the nerves inside your teeth from extreme temperatures. Tooth whitening causes no lasting damage to the pellicle, as it will regenerate on its own within a week or two after the procedure.
It may sound counterintuitive to refrain from brushing after you have just had your teeth whitened, but the lack of a dental pellicle can make brushing more harmful than helpful to your teeth. Without the pellicle in place, brushing is more likely to create small abrasions on the teeth. Bacteria can build up in these abrasions, accelerating the rate at which the acids they produce eats through your enamel and causes pain and sensitivity. Continue to floss normally and substitute brushing with mouthwash until you are no longer experiencing tooth sensitivity.
Use Desensitizing Products
The most obvious method for reducing tooth sensitivity is to use a desensitizing dental product. Desensitizing gels can be applied directly to the tooth or teeth that are experiencing pain. Desensitizing mouthwash is another popular option that will help to protect all of your teeth from pain and sensitivity. Using these products regularly throughout the day and immediately before you eat or drink can greatly increase your overall comfort.
Limit Acidic Foods
Bacteria in your mouth damage your teeth by producing acids as they feed on sugars from leftover food particles. Certain foods also contain acids that can cause discomfort after a recent tooth whitening. While citrus fruits and sodas are well-known for their acid content, you should also limit foods such as yogurt, pickles, and fish.
Professional tooth whitening is a safe cosmetic treatment that enhances your smile at the possible cost of moderate sensitivity in the following days. With a few simple changes to your normal diet and dental hygiene habits, you can eliminate most of the sensitivity that can be caused by tooth whitening. Talk with a dentist like Smudde Family Dentistry Inc/Meredeth Gray DDS if you are still concerned about sensitivity after tooth whitening so you can develop a detailed plan for minimizing your discomfort.