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Dennis G. Sternberg, D.D.S.

Potential Teeth Whitening Side Effects

By Dennis Sternberg on December 29, 2014

Close-up of a woman's smileTeeth whitening can quickly and safely transform the appearance of yellowed teeth, but like other dental treatments, it is associated with some potential side effects. Fortunately, the side effects of teeth whitening are minor and generally resolve within a few days of treatment. Freehold cosmetic dentist Dennis G. Sternberg offers this overview on the potential side effects of teeth whitening and tips to help alleviate symptoms.

Potential Teeth Whitening Side Effects

Not all patients will experience side effects following teeth whitening treatment, but those who do often find their symptoms to be short-lived and minimal. Some potential side effects patients should be aware of include:

  • Increased tooth sensitivity after treatment: Dental whitening treatments can cause increased tooth sensitivity immediately after treatment. This is because whitening treatments expose the porous, dentin layer, which leads to the nerves of the teeth. Increased tooth sensitivity caused by whitening treatments usually resolves within one to three days following treatment.
  • Mild gum irritation: When the bleaching gel used in whitening treatments comes into contact with gum tissue, it can irritate the gums or turn them white. The gums will generally regain color within an hour of treatment. Gum irritation is more common in home treatments than when performed in-office, as steps are taken in-office to reduce the bleaching gel's contact with gum tissue. 
  • Uneven whitening: Uneven whitening, known as “technicolor” teeth, is a potential side effect for patients who have received dental restorations prior to whitening treatment. Dental materials, like porcelain and tooth-colored composite resin, do not respond to whitening treatments, which can result in a noticeable difference in color between the natural tooth and the restoration. If you have dental restorations and are considering teeth whitening, it is important to let your dentist know so you can avoid technicolor teeth.
  • Unhappy with results: Some patients may not be able to achieve the desired level of whitening due to the severity of staining. Fortunately, there are alternative treatments, including porcelain veneers and dental bonding, to help those with severe stains obtain a bright white smile.

Alleviating Teeth Whitening Side Effects

Though most patients who experience teeth whitening side effects find issues resolve on their own within a few days, there are some ways to help reduce symptoms. Try these tips to alleviate teeth whitening side effects:

  • Avoid extremes in food or drink temperatures: Teeth sensitivity is most painful when consuming foods or drinks with extreme differences in temperature, for instance, when you take a bite of a hot meal and then wash it down with ice water. You can reduce the pain of tooth sensitivity by avoiding extreme changes in food temperatures, and instead keep everything lukewarm.
  • Switch to sensitive formula toothpaste: Sensitive formula toothpastes can reduce the pain of tooth sensitivity while your teeth recover from teeth whitening.
  • Use a soft bristled brush and light pressure: The teeth have protective minerals, which can be stripped away during teeth whitening, leading to increased tooth sensitivity.

Seek Professional Teeth Whitening Treatments

You can reduce your risk of side effects by scheduling an appointment for professional teeth whitening treatments. Contact our offices for more information.

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