Tooth Sensitivity From Whitening: Why It Happens And What You Can Do

You've been looking forward to having nice, white teeth after years of coffee-induced yellowing. But now your teeth seem to be rebelling, and they hurt when you eat or drink something hot, cold, or sweet. This is tooth sensitivity, and it is annoying, but it is not permanent and will not prevent you from enjoying your favorite foods and drinks permanently. Tooth sensitivity after whitening is very common, so don't be surprised if you experience it.

Temporary Porosity

When you whiten your teeth, the whitening gel, toothpaste, or other substance essentially strips away the stain, removing some minerals from the tooth's surface in the process. This can make your teeth more porous than usual. Regular tooth sensitivity works in a similar way, but over a longer time. The main difference between the two is that whitening sensitivity is usually temporary. For most people, the sensitivity lasts only a couple of days or so, although others may experience it for a little longer than that.

Interim Care

During the whitening process and for a couple of weeks afterward, stick to room-temperature foods and drinks as much as possible, and avoid sweets, as difficult as that may be. A holiday may not seem like much fun without chocolate or ice cream, but if you're getting your teeth whitened, the Easter candy and Memorial Day ice cream will have to wait. Brush your teeth with a toothpaste made for sensitive enamel, too, and be very gentle; switch to a soft-bristled brush if you aren't already using one.

It Won't Last

Eventually your teeth will become less sensitive. You might want to keep using the toothpaste made for sensitive teeth, at least for a while longer just to ensure you aren't going to be surprised by a hidden sensitive spot on your tooth. Plus, your teeth can become sensitive for other reasons, so continuing to use that toothpaste can be a good preventative measure. And be sure to keep using soft-bristled brushes. Medium and hard bristles can scratch your tooth enamel and cause additional sensitivity.

After a couple of weeks — after the whitening process has finished, of course — you can start testing your teeth by eating or drinking something cooler or warmer than what you've been having. Go slowly so that if your teeth are still somewhat sensitive, you don't toss back a cold drink only to experience pain again. Eventually you should be able to have hot and cold items, as well as sweet items.

If you still experience issues, or if the sensitivity is preventing you from eating or drinking anything, contact a dentist like Kyle J Frisinger DMD. It could be that you need to switch whitening processes to something less speedy but gentler for your teeth, or it could be that you've uncovered a different issue like a new cavity.