What Are the Side Effects of Teeth Whitening? By N. Perry Orchard on August 18, 2014

A dark-haired female with a bright, white smileTeeth whitening is an excellent treatment option for extrinsic tooth discoloration, the yellow or brown-toned stains that affect the surface of the teeth. The teeth whitening treatment process effectively removes discoloration from tooth enamel. But before undergoing treatment, patients should understand the potential side effects of teeth whitening treatment so they know what to expect after treatment. At the practice of Dr. Charles A. Robertson and Dr. N. Perry Orchard in Corpus Christi, the dentists inform patients of possible teeth whitening side effects prior to performing the treatment.

Tooth Sensitivity

The most well known teeth whitening side effect is tooth sensitivity. Patients who undergo over the counter teeth whitening or professional teeth whitening treatment may experience this side effect. The increased sensitivity is caused by the temporary stripping of the protein pellicle, which exposes the pores in the dentin. Until the dental pellicle reforms, patients may experience tooth sensitivity. This discomfort is typically at its worse when the teeth are exposed to hot or cold foods; as such, it is recommended that patients avoid temperate foods for a couple of days after the teeth whitening procedure.

Patients who already have sensitive teeth may want to choose a teeth whitening product with a lower percentage of hydrogen peroxide. In addition, they may want to limit the amount of time in which the whitening product is in contact with the teeth.

Gum Irritation

Patients may also experience gum irritation after teeth whitening treatment. If the teeth whitening solution comes into contact with the gums, it can cause temporary discomfort. The hydrogen peroxide can sting the gums and even cause them to turn a white color. To reduce gum irritation, patients can choose a whitening product with a lower concentration of hydrogen peroxide. Patients should also have custom teeth whitening trays made by their dentist. Custom trays limit the amount of whitening product that comes into contact with the teeth.

Throat Sensitivity

This is a lesser-known side effect that can develop if the patient swallows some of the whitening product. As the hydrogen peroxide comes into contact with the tissues of the throat, it can cause some discomfort. This is more likely to occur with whitening products that are used overnight.

Uneven Whitening

Uneven whitening can occur for two reasons. First, in cases in which patients are using a product with a high concentration of hydrogen peroxide, certain areas of the tooth may respond more than others, resulting in an uneven whitening appearance. Second, if the patient has any type of tooth restorations or fabrications (such as porcelain veneers, dental bonding, fillings, or crowns) on the visible teeth, these will not respond to the whitening solution. Instead, the natural tooth structure will whiten, while the tooth fabrications remain the same color.

Fortunately, most of the side effects of teeth whitening treatment are typically short-lived. Most patients only experience tooth, gum, or throat discomfort for a day or two after treatment. In cases of uneven whitening, patients should consult a dentist.

To find out if you are a good candidate for teeth whitening, contact the practice of Dr. Charles A. Robertson and Dr. N. Perry Orchard.

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Orchard Dental Associates, PLLC

Orchard Dental Associates, PLLC

Drs. Nicholas Perry Orchard  and Alejandro Vilamil provide comprehensive dentistry using the latest state-of-the-art technology. Our dentists are affiliated with the following organizations:

  • American Dental Association
  • Academy of General Dentistry
  • Texas Dental Association

To book your appointment, contact us online or give us a call at (361) 992-3011.

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