Tooth sensitivity can occur for many reasons, and while some patients may experience a twinge during teeth whitening, the process itself did not cause the sensitivity.
Tooth sensitivity occurs when the root of the tooth is exposed to outside sources. Cold temperatures from being outside on a cold winter day to enjoying a favorite frozen treat can result in that uncomfortable twinge as the nerve reacts to extreme temperatures.
Another possible cause is when the tubal capillaries located under the enamel of the tooth, that carry sensation from the root of the tooth, become exposed. Dental enamel is the hard surface that covers all the exposed areas of teeth. Any time that enamel is breached, the dentin under the enamel which houses those tubes can experience sensitivity.
Dental enamel can get chipped, cracked, decayed, or worn away. Although dental enamel is an extremely hard surface, it can get worn down through constant grinding and clenching, brushing with too hard a tooth brush, or using improper technique.
There are tooth pastes and rinses that successfully work to shrink those tubal capillaries to reduce sensitivity whether in preparation for the teeth whitening process or just to prevent day to day discomfort to hot or cold temperatures from the air, food or beverages we consume.
When preparing to undergo teeth whitening, the patient has their teeth cleaned and the dentist will perform an examination to gauge whether the patient is a good candidate for whitening, and to explain exactly what can be expected from the procedure.
Any anticipated cosmetic work should be delayed until whitening is completed so new restorations will match the newly whitened teeth color. Porcelain and composite resin are not impacted with whitening, so holding off until the desired shade from whitening is achieved is best.
If sensitivity should occur during whitening, it most often subsides at the conclusion of treatment or a day or two later. Very rarely does long term sensitivity result from teeth whitening.
Brightening your smile through teeth whitening is a very economical, but impactful, cosmetic enhancement. Discuss concerns about sensitivity with our cosmetic dentists before undergoing treatment to understand all possible side effects from teeth whitening.