How do we manage tooth sensitivity after whitening treatment?

Teeth whitening is a procedure that many patients request out of a desire to have a neat, beautiful smile.

As well as the fact that a well-groomed set of teeth suggests increased self-care, it can also automatically mean increased self-confidence.

Indications for teeth whitening

There are many situations in which teeth whitening is recommended, the most common of which are:

  • Genetically yellower teeth – each person is born with a certain phenotype, i.e., they possess certain characteristics from the time of intrauterine development.

Likewise, the color of the teeth, in some situations it can be naturally darker and in the same type disturbing for the patient, so they will opt for whitening treatment.

  • Acquired stains – these stains may be the result of smoking or the consumption of liquids and foods that have a chromogenic potential, i.e., that favor the deposition of staining substances in the dental units (red wine, dark berry juices, red beetroot).
  • Some medications in patients undergoing chronic treatment or even certain oral cavity care products (chlorhexidine mouthwashes) can have the same effect of changing the color of teeth. Depending on the frequency with which these chromogenic factors act but also the duration of contact with the dental units, they can produce minor or severe staining.
  • Excessive fluoride consumption, especially in children, and the administration of fluoride tablets can lead to intoxication, a phenomenon called fluorosis, which is characterized by the appearance of white spots on the crowns, initially, and then, as the disease progresses, these spots turn brown.

Many patients confidently turn to teeth whitening treatments without first investigating what they entail.

Treatments carried out in a dentist’s surgery or at home, but with the doctor’s consent, give good results because they are supervised by a specialist in the field.

Sometimes whitening treatments done after the patient’s ear can lead to adverse side effects.

Even if whitening is done in the dental office or at home, one of the side effects that occurs inconsistently and in varying degrees of severity is tooth sensitivity.

This phenomenon present after tooth whitening is mild to moderate in intensity, but transient

A few years ago, when these treatments were still in their infancy, the number of patients experiencing tooth sensitivity was higher compared to the situation today, because desensitizing agents, amorphous calcium phosphate, fluoride and potassium nitrate were included in the bleaching gel formulations.

The reaction is perfectly normal, the patient should not be frightened if during or after the treatment he/she shows dental sensitivity, that is why it is recommended that tooth whitening is done in the office to reduce the risk of irritation of the gums and the appearance of dental sensitivity.

Usually, the dentist may recommend non-steroidal anti-inflammatories on the day the teeth whitening is performed and as guidelines, the patient will avoid very cold or very hot drinks, rinse the mouth with warm water and use fluoride toothpaste.

Professional cleaning and brushing

Every patient should receive a complete hygiene protocol, consisting of scaling and professional brushing, at least once every six months. Patients who belong to risk groups such as smokers or those predisposed to develop periodontal disease should practice this routine more often, i.e., every three months or as indicated by the attending physician.

Tartar is a conglomerate of particles in the oral cavity that have calcified and formed into hard, adherent deposits on the tooth surface, especially in the region of the socket, i.e., where the tooth meets the gum.

Tartar, once present in the oral cavity, insidiously pushes the gum towards the root of the tooth by mechanical force, thus exposing a large part of the dental crown, with the appearance, over time, of dental mobility.

In dental surgeries, scaling is usually carried out with piezotronics instruments.

The use of mouthwash and floss as well as mouth irrigators in addition to a correct tooth brushing protocol decreases the degree of tartar formation.

Decalculation is a maneuver that some patients may find painful because of the sensitivity that may occur, especially in the lower front teeth.

However, this painful discomfort can be eliminated by local anesthesia.

After removal of the supragingival tartar, the subgingival tartar is removed and then professionally brushed.


There are some inconveniences following scaling that patients should be aware of:

– Dental sensitivity – teeth that have been covered by tartar deposits will be more senile for a few days after scaling.

During this period, the gums will cover a large part of the remaining empty interdental spaces and, following this process, sensitivity will fade.

Sensitivity is especially accentuated following contact with sweet, cold or very hot foods.

Contact with extreme temperature or sweet foods should be avoided in the first few days after detraction.

– Foods to avoid, in addition to extreme temperature foods, are sticky foods that can get stuck between the teeth.

Almonds, nuts or any other seeds can contribute to gum damage and delay healing.

Candied fruits, with their sticky, adhesive nature, can increase dental pain but are also a major enemy of oral health, because they are cariogenic, i.e., they can cause enamel demineralization and the appearance of caries.

Acidic drinks such as wine or fruit juices can be aggressive to the gums, especially when the soft tissues are sensitive.

For many patients, scaling is a rather disturbing process due to sensitivity and the increased volume of water used.

Regular and rigorous scaling will bring great benefits and prevent gingivitis, which is the precursor to periodontal disease, a painless, silent condition that ends in tooth loss.

This is why dental check-ups must be strictly enforced in order to detect early-stage disease and to benefit from effective, atraumatic and low-cost treatment.

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