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Ridgewood Dental Associates

Brighten Your Smile Safely: Understanding Teeth Whitening Side Effects

By Jin Ha Joung on August 08, 2014

A woman with bright, white teeth smilingTeeth whitening is a safe, effective cosmetic treatment that can instantly improve the appearance of stained, discolored teeth. Teeth whitening is a non-invasive treatment, making it suitable for most people. However, there are some potential side effects to be aware of. Ridgewood Dental Associates offers this overview to help you understand the side effects of teeth whitening.

The Side Effects of Teeth Whitening

The side effects of teeth whitening are minimal and generally short lived. Patients who experience side effects after teeth whitening often find the symptoms resolve within a few days. The potential side effects of teeth whitening include:

  • Gum or soft tissue irritation: Some people may experience gum or soft tissue irritation after whitening treatment. This can sometimes happen when the whitening solution comes into contact with gum or inner mouth tissue. At-home treatments are more likely to result in tissue irritation since the application of the whitening treatment is less precise and repeated use is usually required. During professional whitening treatment, steps are taken to minimize contact between the bleaching treatment and gum tissue. 
  • White gums: Overuse of whitening treatment can cause the gums to turn white immediately after use. For most people who experience this, the gums return to their normal color within about 20 minutes.
  • Increased tooth sensitivity: Increased tooth sensitivity is another possible side effect of teeth whitening. Teeth whitening treatment can expose the dentin layer of the teeth. This exposure is the cause of increased sensitivity. Some may not even notice increased tooth sensitivity until the teeth are exposed to hot or cold foods and drinks. Fortunately, most patients who experience increased tooth sensitivity after whitening treatment find their teeth return to normal within a few days.
  • Dissatisfied with results: Some patients may not be satisfied with whitening results. For those with deep stains, even professional whitening treatments may not be able to whiten the teeth to the desired shade. Over-whitening can also cause dissatisfaction with results. Over-whitening can cause the teeth to appear gray or translucent.
  • Technicolor teeth: “Technicolor” teeth refers to a condition in which there's a noticeable color difference between the natural teeth and prior restorations as a result of teeth whitening. Porcelain or composite resin restorations will not whiten, which can result in the restoration looking noticeably yellow compared to a whitened natural tooth. New restorations may need to be made in order to match the surrounding teeth.

Alleviate Teeth Whitening Side Effects

In most cases, the side effects of teeth whitening are mild and resolve within a few days. You can help alleviate the side effects of teeth whitening with these tips:

  • Use whitening treatments as directed: If using at-home whitening treatments, follow all instructions to avoid misuse and reduce the risk of gum irritation.
  • Do not over-whiten teeth: Do not over-use whitening treatments. This can help avoid gum and soft tissue irritation and prevent the teeth from turning gray or translucent.
  • Use sensitive formula toothpaste: Sensitive formula toothpastes can help reduce sensitivity following teeth whitening.
  • Stick to lukewarm foods and drinks: Fluctuations in the temperature of foods and drinks can increase the discomfort of tooth sensitivity. Stick to room temperature or lukewarm foods and drinks to reduce the pain of tooth sensitivity. 

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166 Franklin Ave
Ridgewood, NJ 07450

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