The Major Risk of Whitening is Sensitivity
Many people want whiter and brighter teeth, and we know how good it feels to have a great smile! In fact, before we start cosmetic dental treatments such as fixing tooth shapes, sizes, and positions, we often like to whiten the teeth ahead of time to achieve the best results. Before we whiten, however, it’s important that we review the risks of teeth whitening. The good news is, that there’s only one significant risk, and that is of tooth sensitivity.
Why Can Tooth Whitening Cause Sensitivity?
Whitening (bleaching) materials work by slightly modifying the chemical structure of the surface of a tooth. In most patients there are no side effects of this process, and the teeth whiten without any issues.
In some patients, however, the whitening material’s action can cause teeth that were not sensitive in the past, to now be sensitive. In addition, teeth that were slightly sensitive can become even more sensitive when exposed to whitening treatment.
Is the Sensitivity Permanent?
No. In the overwhelming majority of patients, the sensitivity resolves once they stop the whitening treatment, or shortly thereafter. However, if patients with a history of sensitivity while whitening start whitening treatment again, they will likely be sensitive again.
Are There Alternatives to Whitening?
Absolutely – we can change the color of almost any tooth with veneers or crowns. But if you simply want to whiten your teeth and are concerned about possible sensitivity, it might make sense to try an over-the-counter whitening solution to “test the waters” and see if you are able to tolerate the treatment without sensitivity. Of course, these treatments won’t be as effective as the professional whitening we can offer you, but if you are sensitive with over-the-counter products, you will most likely be sensitive with ours, as well. And if this is the case, we can discuss other alternatives to still get you the white smile you want!