Part 1 Taking Preventative Measures Before Treatment
1Brush with a desensitizing toothpaste. At least 10 days before your treatment, start brushing three times a day with a desensitizing toothpaste. Sensodyne and Colgate Sensitive are two good options. These toothpastes help to block pain signals from the tooth surface to the inner nerve.
- Look for GC Tooth Mousse, which has an active ingredient called CPP ACP that works very well to remineralize enamel.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to rub the toothpaste into the teeth in a circular motion (not back and forth). Ideally, you should brush your teeth for three minutes each session.
- Fluoride and desensitizing agents work even better if you do not rinse your mouth right away. Leave the toothpaste to act on your teeth for another three minutes before rinsing.
2 whiteApply a desensitizing gel, liquid, or paste. Wipe your teeth so that they are dry. Then get a clean cotton swab. Place a large dot of the product on the tip of the swab and rub it onto the surface of your teeth. Leave the product on your teeth for the recommended length of time before rinsing your mouth out with water.
- These products usually contain potassium nitrate, which numbs the nerves in the teeth, limiting sensitivity. Two good products include AcquaSeal and Ultra EZ which can be purchased at the drugstore. You can also use them both before and after your whitening treatment.
3Fill the whitening tray with desensitizing gel. About 30 minutes before your treatment, fill the tray with a desensitizing gel and place it on your teeth. When you are ready to begin your treatment simply take out the tray, rinse it out, and refill it with the bleaching agent. You will also want to rinse out your mouth to remove any gel residue.
- Make sure the whitening tray fits properly — it should only cover your teeth, not your gums. If it reaches the gums, some of the whitening agent could come in contact with them, causing increased sensitivity or even slight burns, which can be seen as a white contour along the gum line.
4Take pain medication before your treatment. About an hour before treatment take the suggested dosage of an anti-inflammatory medication, such as Advil or Aleve. Taking the medication this early allows it to kick in and start working before your procedure. You can continue the medication after the treatment, should you experience any lingering sensitivity.
- If you are unsure as to what medications to take, ask your dentist for a recommendation. In general ibuprofen works well on all types of teeth sensitivity.
Part 2 Managing Discomfort During Treatment
1Choose an at-home whitening treatment kit. Most at-home teeth whitening kits use carbamide peroxide as the main bleaching ingredient. Peroxide is effective, but it can irritate the nerve endings of your teeth and cause sensitivity. Choose an in-home kit that contains a low peroxide level of 5 – 6%. A higher peroxide dose will not guarantee effectiveness and might cause a great deal of pain.
- There are a wide variety of at-home whitening options: strips, paint-ons, mouth trays with gel, whitening toothpaste, and even whitening gum and mouthwash. If you have any concerns about the safety of these products, ask your dentist.
- If you do choose a tray-based whitening method, make sure that the tray fits securely over your teeth. If it is loose the gel can leak out and create widespread gum irritation and increased sensitivity.
Apply the recommended amount of whitening agent and no more. It may be tempting to use more gel to get quicker, whiter results. Don’t do it. Instead, follow the directions carefully and make the health of your mouth the priority. Using too much agent can cause gum irritation and even vomiting if swallowed.
3Leave the whitening product on for the suggested time. Extending the time beyond the package recommendations will not make your teeth any brighter or whiter. It will, however, possibly erode your tooth enamel, causing future issues with sensitivity and decay caused by fractures in the enamel.
- The recommended length of time will generally depend on the percentage of active peroxide, which varies from product to product.
Part 3 Healing After Treatment
1Avoid hot and cold drinks. For the first 24 – 48 hours after treatment your teeth will feel very sensitive, regardless of your previous dental history. It is best to avoid drinks that are either too hot or too cold. Try to drink and eat foods at room temperature. For example, instead of eating ice cream you might try some room temperature gelatin.
- Even if you feel no pain after your procedure, it is best to be cautious and avoid exposing your teeth to extreme temperatures.
- It is good if you can avoid acidic foods and drinks as well. Soft drinks and citrus juices can irritate and inflame a healing mouth.
- You should also avoid smoking and drinking or eating colored foods, so as not to stain the enamel, which is very vulnerable for the first 48 hours.
2Brush your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush. It is always advisable to use a soft-bristled brush on your teeth before and after whitening procedures. Brush in a gentle circular motion. The soft bristles will clean your teeth without irritating the surface of your teeth. You will want to wait 30 minutes to an hour after your treatment before brushing your teeth. In the meantime, you can rinse your mouth out with water, if desired.
- When rinsing and brushing, use lukewarm water to minimize your discomfort.
- If you are not comfortable brushing, you can place some toothpaste on a cotton swab and apply a thin layer to your teeth before going to bed. This will give you the benefit of fluoride without the irritation.
3Use products that contain fluoride to remineralize the teeth. Particular brands of toothpaste and mouthwashes contain varying degrees of fluoride. It is believed that fluoride helps to block the pain signals from your oral nerves, leading to less sensitivity. If you use fluoride, try not to eat anything for 30 minutes as this will give it more time to take effect.
- Apply a fluoride gel over your teeth for five minutes and do not swallow. This will also help to increase salivary flow for a better remineralization of the enamel.
- Some good examples of mouthwashes and rinses that contain fluoride include: Listerine Fluoride Defense, Fluoride Listerine, Colgate Neutrafluor and Colgate Fluorigard.
4Chew a pack of sugar-free gum. Immediately after your treatment, pull out your pack of sugar-free gum. Begin chewing a single piece at a time. Every 10 minutes spit out the chewed piece and begin working on a new one. Do this until you go through the whole pack. This cycle is believed to lessen tooth sensitivity after whitening treatments.
- Avoid this method if you have stomach problems or if you did not eat anything. Mastication (chewing) influences the release of the gastric acid in your stomach, increasing the risk of ulcers.
5Give your teeth a break between whitening treatments. It is generally okay to have one to two tray-based or dental office whitening procedures per year. Any more than that can compromise the integrity of your teeth and will increase sensitivity. Try to consider whitening as a serious procedure and not a regular part of your dental routine.
- If you are using whitening toothpastes or strips at home, try to cut back to every other day. This will give your teeth more time to recover in between treatments.
6Visit your dentist if the sensitivity persists. If your teeth continue to bother you more than 48 hours after your procedure, it’s a good idea to make a dental appointment. Your dentist will take a close look at your teeth to determine whether the whitening amped up your sensitivity or if there is another underlying issue, such as a cavity.
- When you visit your dentist it may be helpful to bring along the packaging or the actual strips/toothpaste that you use to whiten at home. Your dentist may be able to recommend a better alternative.
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- Just remember that sensitivity should be limited in duration, only lasting 24-48 hours. You will get through this.
- It is possible to become addicted to teeth whitening. An addiction of this type falls under the category of a body dysmorphic disorder(BDD). If you feel as if your desire for teeth whitening is impacting all aspects of your life or impacting your health in a negative way, seek help from a medical professional.
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