Side Effects of Teeth Whitening: In-Chair and Take-Home

Just about every action in life has both positive and negative consequences. For instance, we all need vitamin-D to be healthy, but are only too familiar with the devastating affects that spending too much time in the sun can wreak on our skin.

close up of teeth whitening before and afterSimilarly, in the medical world, almost every type of medication and treatment carries some sort of possible side effect. Over-the-counter medication like Panadol and cold and flu tablets have side effects, but these don’t stop people from rushing to the chemist at the first sign of a headache or sniffle.

Given this state of affairs, every decision we make becomes a case of weighing up the positive consequences of an action against the possibilities of negative consequences arising. This is exactly how Dr Olstein approaches the side effects of teeth whitening.

Possible Side Effects of In-Chair Teeth Whitening

The most commonly reported side effects of teeth whitening are tooth and gum sensitivity, which can occur during or after the whitening session.

During In-Chair Teeth Whitening

During your teeth whitening session, you may experience some minor sensitivity (similar to that associated with a scale and clean) or a tingly feeling. If you experience either of these side effects, then be sure to let Dr Olstein know so that your treatment can be stopped and a new plan of action put in place.

Hydrogen peroxide is the chemical used during in-chair teeth whitening treatments. The causticity of this chemical helps to wash away stains on your teeth and bleach your teeth white. However, if the hydrogen comes in contact with your gums, it can cause gum irritation and a tingly feely.

Dr Olstein will use a liquid dam to isolate your teeth and prevent the exposure of your gums to the peroxide. This is another reason why anaesthesia won’t be used in your treatment; gum discomfort is a sign that the dam has been breached and peroxide is affecting the gums. This is extremely rare and Dr Olstein has the process of affixing dams down to a fine art. If it does happen, and you can feel all sort of irritation, simply let us know.

After In-Chair Teeth Whitening

Sometimes patients may experience sensitivity to hot or cold foods, and a general feeling of discomfort immediately after in-chair tooth whitening. Sensitivity to hot and cold food or beverages will usually abate on its own. Application of ‘Relief’ to the surface of the teeth will often be the last step of treatment and this will assist in preventing thermal sensitivity. The use of toothpaste like Sensodyne will also help to dull this sensitivity if you’re affected after treatment. Frequent use of desensitising toothpaste should eliminate or significantly reduce the problem. Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory is also very effective; the analgesic controls the pain and the anti-inflammatory properties of the medication will address the cause of the symptoms.

Pain or discomfort after treatment is often due to inflammation of the nerve tissue due to penetration of the peroxide, dehydration of the teeth or exposure to the bleaching lights. The pain or discomfort is rarely severe and in most cases will dissipate quite quickly. If the symptoms are troubling you, it’s important that you contact Dr Olstein.

Possible Side Effects of Take-Home Teeth Whitening

Side effects related to take-home teeth whitening are often due to the use of over-the-counter teeth whitening options. The most commonly reported side effects are sensitivity, gum irritation, a sore throat and uneven whitening:

  • Sensitivity: If you notice any sensitivity you should cease treatment until the sensitivity dissipates. The whitening effect is cumulative, so stopping for a couple of days won’t affect results. The sensitivity will usually disappear without any treatment, but if it is affecting you, desensitising toothpaste and anti-inflammatories are effective treatment options.
  • Gum Irritation: It is always a good idea to have professionally moulded trays made for you by Dr Olstein before you start at-home teeth whitening. These trays are designed and fitted specifically to your mouth to prevent peroxide from reaching your gums. If you do notice any irritation you should immediately stop treatment and contact our office.
  • Throat Irritation: This is usually a result of swallowing some of the whitening agent. Professionally moulded trays will have a reservoir to catch any excess peroxide and prevent you from swallowing it. This issue will resolve by itself, but its important you cease treatment until the irritation has subsided.
  • Uneven Whitening: Uneven, or spotty whitening will present itself in the first week of whitening. Cumulative treatments will resolve this issue but professionally moulded trays will significantly reduce the chance of this occurring.

The teeth whitening side effects listed above are incredibly minor and none pose any long-term health affects. By conducting your treatment through a professional you significantly reduce the possibility of having any side effects at all. The benefits of whitening are enormous and the possible negatives are rare and inconsequential.

If you’d like to make an appointment with Dr George Olstein to discuss professional in-chair teeth whitening, do not hesitate to contact us today. Our friendly team is always happy to answer any queries you might have.

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