Side Effects of Teeth Whitening
The following are the typical side effects of an at-home or professional teeth whitening treatment. Please be aware of these before attempting any teeth whitening treatment.
Although uncommon, some people can experience some tooth sensitivity called “zingers” during the first 24 – 48 hours after the whitening treatment. People with existing sensitivity, recently cracked teeth, micro-cracks, open cavities, leaking fillings, or other dental conditions that cause sensitivity may find that these conditions increase or prolong tooth sensitivity after the treatment. If you experience tooth sensitivity after the treatment, you can use Sensodyne™ toothpaste to ease the discomfort. Brush your teeth with this toothpaste until tooth sensitivity goes away.
If you have tooth sensitivity do not begin with your touch-up pen treatment at home. Wait until the sensitivity goes away and then begin with the home treatment.
Blanching and Minor Gum Irritation
Sometimes the gums will turn white and possibly even sting a little, particularly with a professional teeth whitening treatment. This is called blanching and is very temporary. Rinse well and apply some vitamin e to the irritated gum area (optional). Gums should return to normal within 5-20 minutes. If you have severe irritation, either your gums are not healthy or you could be having an allergic-type of reaction (see below) in addition to the blanching. Stop the treatment immediately and consult your physician if you desire.
After the treatment, it is natural for teeth color to regress somewhat over time. This is normal and should be very gradual, but it can be accelerated by exposing the teeth to various staining agents, such as coffee, tea, tobacco, red wine, colas, citrus drinks and fruits, etc. Do not eat or drink anything except water for the first hour after the treatment because the gel opens the pores of the enamel and makes the teeth very vulnerable to staining agents. If you purchased a touch-up pen or a take-home kit (which is highly recommended in order to avoid color regression) be aware that the pores of your enamel will remain open for as long as you use it so you should refrain from staining agents till you stop using the pen. You can resume your normal habits 24 hours after you conclude the touch-up pen treatment. Also, be aware that drinks and food are not the only things that can stain our teeth when the pores are open; lipstick, for example, can stain too. Do NOT apply lipstick soon after whitening your teeth.
Damage to Tooth Enamel
Peroxide-based teeth whitening gels penetrate tooth enamel to lift stains within tooth dentin. This leaves the surface of the tooth enamel temporarily softened and pores open. Teeth are more susceptible to stains and erosion during this time and can also lose minerals at a higher rate during this time. We highly recommend the use of remineralizing gel immediately following a tooth whitening treatment. It is also important to follow instructions for how often it is safe to whiten your teeth, which depends on what type of whitening gel was used. Your dentist is best suited to advise you. Our general maximum use guidelines are:
- Hydrogen Peroxide Gel: Once every 6-12 months.
- Carbamide Peroxide Gel: Complete treatment once every 3-6 months. Maintenance treatments once a month.
- Non-Peroxide Gel: Once a month.
Warning: Most people will experience mild, transient gum and/or lip irritation if the gel is allowed on the lips or gums. However, a very small percentage of people experience an allergic type reaction whether or not the gel touches soft mouth tissue that manifests as burning and blistering of the gums and/or lips. If this occurs, discontinue use immediately, rinse the irritated area well, and consult your doctor or dentist if desired.