Why Does Teeth Whitening Cause Sensitivity?

happy girl with whitened teeth and red lipstick smiling for the camera












Tooth sensitivity occurs when the enamel on the teeth gets thinner or when gumline recession occurs. When the gumline recedes, the underlying surface known as the dentin is exposed, and this reduces the protection the enamel and gums provide to the root and tooth. Tooth sensitivity can make eating some of your favorite foods or drinks unbearable. One known cause of tooth sensitivity is teeth whitening, but why does this common procedure cause sensitive teeth?

Why Whiten?

Whitening your teeth is one of the best ways of getting stains off your teeth and to give you the smile you’ve always wanted. Teeth whitening is a great way to make you feel better about your smile, and in turn, gain confidence in many aspects of your life. There are many whitening products such as gels, bleaching strips, toothpastes, and mouth rinses. These products can either work just on the surface of the tooth, or just below it.

What Causes the Sensitivity?

Some of these products contain carbamide peroxide, which is an active ingredient that breaks down into hydrogen peroxide, that works to remove stains that are on the surface of your teeth or deeper. These ingredients usually are the gels used in bleaching trays, or over the counter whitening strips. The sensitivity you may feel can be a direct result of these ingredients being on your teeth for a long period of time. When the hydrogen peroxide soaks through your enamel, it exposes the nerves in the dentin beneath it, which is why many experience sensitive teeth after a whitening. Other products, like toothpastes, may not have this ingredient but still cause sensitivity on the surface.

Tooth sensitivity from teeth whitening is usually temporary and stops after the bleaching treatment. It is important to use high quality products that do not damage your teeth or cause prolonged sensitivity. While there are over the counter products available for teeth whitening, it is better for your mouth health to use whitening procedures recommended by our practice.

If you would like to learn more about our teeth whitening treatment, contact local dentist in Newburgh, Dr. Michael Koumas.

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