When dental patients are looking for ways to maintain a beautiful smile, a cosmetic dentist is there to help. For many patients, having teeth that are bright and white is vital. Over time, however, teeth can become stained and dull due to many factors. Stain-causing foods and beverages, such as berries, tea and coffee, are…
Ask Your Dentist: Teeth Whitening Trays for Sensitive Teeth
One of modern dentistry's most popular services is teeth whitening. The most commonly reported side effect of this treatment, though, is tooth sensitivity. Hot and cold sensitivity can be aggravating or even painful for patients. There are many types of bleaching solutions and methods available, and each comes with its own risks and benefits as well as level of sensitivity potentially caused. One of the most common types of bleaching, trays, has some advantages over others in the ability to manage sensitivity.
Considerations for whitening trays used on sensitive teeth
When using whitening solution in custom trays, it is important that patients follow a few simple tips to keep sensitivity to a minimum. One of the most important factors for any solution used is this: Follow instructions from the manufacturer and dentist as closely as possible. Misuse of bleaching products can lead to unnecessary levels of sensitivity.
Use whitening material as directed
Using teeth whitening solution longer than directed is one of the most common causes of sensitivity when using trays. This can mean wearing the trays for too many minutes or using the trays for more days than recommended. When the patient follows the directions for the product, sensitivity and tooth and gum damage are less likely to occur. If a patient continues to excessively whiten despite extreme sensitivity, it could be a sign of body dysmorphic disorder; in this case a referral to a mental health professional may be needed.
Alternate fluoride with whitening material
One of the major advantages of custom trays over other methods is allowing the patient to alternate fluoride with bleaching material. While fluoride is most commonly known to prevent cavities, it also has sensitivity relief properties. A dentist may recommend using fluoride in the trays every other day or immediately after teeth whitening treatment if the patient experiences high levels of hot and cold sensitivity. The fluoride can usually be purchased at the patient's dental office, and it is important that the patient receives instruction on how to use it properly.
Use recommended sensitivity products
Besides fluoride, there are many other products designed to ease tooth sensitivity. These include specially formulated toothpastes and rinses. Some products may require a prescription from a dentist, but there are plenty of over-the-counter products that can reduce post-whitening sensitivity as well. If sensitivity lingers for more than two weeks, the patient should see a dentist for recommendations on how to address sensitivity.
While some patients may shy away from bleaching treatments due to bad experiences with sensitivity in the past, there are many ways this issue can be reduced. Solutions have also improved in recent years to lessen this undesirable side effect. Trays offer the added benefits of being custom-fitted while allowing the patient to use sensitivity products in addition to whitening products. For patients considering bleaching procedures, a consultation with a dentist is recommended to find out if the patient is a candidate for this treatment and what type would benefit their specific situation.
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