Studies show that 44% of Australian households* contain someone who suffers from sensitive teeth or gums.
For some, it is an ongoing issue, whilst others relate it to certain situations such as cold foodstuffs or after teeth whitening. Due to various dietary, lifestyle, oral hygiene and many other factors tooth sensitivity has become a significant area of interest for dental professionals.
What is Tooth Sensitivity?
Usually, a short or sharp sensation when your teeth are exposed to a hot or cold stimulus such as food/drinks and/or during/after teeth whitening treatment or procedures. This can vary in duration, frequency and severity and usually depends on the causative factor.
Teeth Whitening and Sensitivity
Whether it be Home Whitening or professional in chair teeth whitening treatment, your teeth may be become sensitive due to certain whitening ingredients (usually peroxide gels) and of the actual whitening (oxidation) process itself.
This whitening process occurs on a microscopic level – allowing the whitening ingredient to penetrate your tooth porosities, in turn, lifting away discolouration’s and lightening your teeth. Usually, teeth whitening sensitivity is temporary lasting no longer than 24-48hrs after the last whitening treatment. For individuals with pre-existing sensitivity this may be longer.
Sensitivity during whitening varies greatly between individuals and for many reasons – The House of Mouth™ recommends having pre-existing sensitivity issues addressed before commencing any whitening treatment
Managing Sensitivity from Whitening
Use a Sensitive Toothpaste
Start using Sensitive Toothpaste at least 7 days prior to whitening. Sensitive Toothpaste can also be placed in your whitening trays after home whitening (for at least 30mins) to further enhance its effects. Colgate Sensitive Pro Relief or Sensodyne are popular and available online or in many retail stores. Use a Sensitive Toothpaste that works best for you and caters to your individual needs or preferences e.g. flavour, price – this varies among people.
Use a Tooth Desensitiser
Sensitive toothpaste not cutting it? Using a specially formulated Tooth Desensitising Product can provide targeted relief. These products can be smeared onto your teeth and gums (Tooth Mousse and Tooth Mousse Plus), placed in your whitening trays (Pola Soothe and UltraEz), or applied using prefilled trays (UltraEz). Most products have flexible usage in that they can be used before/after whitening. Most products contain ingredients which may assist in cavity prevention, tooth remineralisation and desensitisation.
Have a Rest Day
Listen to your teeth! As odd as it sounds, if your teeth are overly sensitive after whitening, take a break! Allow a ‘rest day’ where you DO NOT whiten. This gives your teeth a ‘break’. For example, if you were to commence whitening on a Monday, DO NOT whiten Tuesday but recommence on Wednesday.
Avoid the Obvious
For at least the first 48hrs after any teeth whitening treatment, refrain consuming overly hot/cold stimuli which will exacerbate sensitivity issues i.e, ice cream, cold drinks, ice etc.
Use a Different Product
If your teeth are still sensitive after attempting the above, try an alternate whitening product. This can be in form of using a lower concentration (strength), brand or different active ingredient. In comparison to Hydrogen Peroxide based gels, Carbamide Peroxide or Peroxide Free products help to minimise sensitivity, however, are usually worn for a longer.
As always prior to any whitening treatment it is important to seek professional advice. Your individual situation is unique and what may work well for one whitener may not necessarily be the case for yourself.