October 16, 2019
Your yellowed teeth have been bothering you for a while now. You tried whitening toothpaste, but to no avail. You decide to attempt over-the-counter whitening strips, but they just make a sharp pain shoot through your mouth, and they don’t deliver the results you want. What gives? What causes teeth whitening sensitivity? Let’s take a closer look at this problem, and how your dentist can help prevent it.
How Teeth Whitening Works
Teeth stains can be either extrinsic (appearing on the surface of your teeth) or intrinsic (in between the cracks of your enamel). Enamel is the outermost layer of your teeth, comprised of the hardest material in the human body. Underneath the enamel is a layer of yellowish material known as dentin. Dentin contains microscopic tubules that lead to the nerves of the teeth. As a result, the more dentin is exposed, the more sensitive your pearly whites become.
Whitening toothpastes are effective at removing surface stains, but intrinsic discoloration needs a little extra boost. That’s where teeth whitening treatment comes in. Whitening agents penetrate the enamel and target discolored molecules, breaking the bonds that hold these molecules together. Oxygen molecules from the whitening agent then spread throughout the tooth, giving it a brighter shade.
Why Whitening Can Make Your Teeth Sensitive
Sensitivity after teeth whitening is usually the result of using peroxide-based whitening agents that are too powerful. The peroxide soaks through the enamel to reach the dentin, exposing the nerves temporarily, which is what causes the sensitivity. In general, over-the-counter whitening products are more likely to cause discomfort than professional treatment because they are not designed with your safety and comfort in mind.
How Your Dentist Can Help
Most dental professionals will agree that whitening treatment from your dentist can deliver better results than anything you can find in the drugstore. They are also significantly less likely to cause sensitive teeth. This is because dentists can adjust the potency of the bleaching gel as needed to account for the level of dentin that is currently exposed in your teeth. Store-bought solutions cannot do this.
Additionally, your dentist can craft custom-made trays for you to wear during your whitening treatment. These trays are not designed to be one-size-fits-all, like over-the-counter trays are. They better protect your gums from being exposed to the bleaching gel and experiencing sensitivity.
You shouldn’t have to suffer through sensitive teeth just because you want a brighter smile. If over-the-counter products haven’t given you the results you need, ask your dentist about professional whitening treatment.
About the Practice
At Columbian Square Dental in Weymouth, MA, Dr. William Olafson and Dr. Jacinthe Giroux combine their years of skill to deliver a truly excellent dental experience to patients of all ages. They offer ZOOM! Whitening treatment, both in-office and in take-home trays. To get started on brightening your grin, visit their website or call (781) 337-6644.
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