Tooth discoloration can be a detriment to your smile and your self-confidence. Even a few stains can make a big cosmetic difference in otherwise attractive, healthy teeth. Of the various ways to treat discoloration, teeth whitening is a safe and incredibly effective treatment to brighten teeth in just one dental visit.
While a majority of people can be good candidates for teeth whitening, it is important to consider the side effects of any dental procedure. To this end, our Reston office provides the following information on what to expect immediately after a teeth whitening treatment.
Common Side Effects of Tooth Whitening
Even though tooth whitening is one of the safest cosmetic treatments, carrying very limited risks, it is not without a few side effects. Patients who undergo a professional whitening procedure can expect some degree of tooth sensitivity, as well as the possibility of gum irritation. This is due to the hydrogen peroxide used in whitening gel. As this compound works into the enamel of teeth to remove stains, it may also come in contact with the underlying dentin or nearby gum tissue, resulting in these mild side effects.
- Tooth sensitivity: Following treatment, patients experience varying levels of sensitivity within their teeth. For some, this is only felt when consuming hot or cold foods and beverages; for others, sensitivity is felt more consistently and acutely. Individual discomfort is determined by a number of factors, such as natural sensitivity, previous dental work, and the overall health of teeth. In most cases, any discomfort will begin to subside after only 24 hours.
- Gum irritation: As whitening gel is applied to teeth, a skilled dentist will prevent most, if not all, of the gel from coming in contact with your gums. Still, it is common for small amounts of gel to leak out of the tray, resulting in brief chemical burns. Immediate effects include irritation and discoloration of the gums, which should completely disappear within a few hours. Prolonged exposure to whitening gel can cause increased irritation, as well as temporary bleeding or inflammation. However, there are no long-term effects on gums from a single minor burn.
In most cases, whitening is a great technique for enhancing the coloration of all teeth, producing a bright, evenly shaded smile. But there are some circumstances in which a tooth may resist the effects of whitening. Deep stains, for instance, are not easily removable through whitening gel. Discoloration from injury, medication, or fluoride stains may remain after treatment, standing out.
Similarly, restorations are not affected by whitening. If you have a replacement tooth, veneer, crown, or similar restoration, bear in mind that its color will remain the same after treatment. If it ends up contrasting with your natural teeth, the restoration may be replaced with a more complementary shade for your new smile.
The Risk of Over-whitening
A single whitening treatment poses little if any risk to teeth. On the other hand, multiple treatments in a relatively brief period of time can damage enamel and the soft tissues underneath. The result is a dark or yellow discoloration as inner dental tissue is exposed, and teeth are likely to become permanently sensitive and weakened. In such cases, permanent treatment such as porcelain veneers or dental crowns may be necessary to protect the surfaces of teeth. Remember to always consult your dentist before making an educated decision about potential cosmetic procedures.
Speak With Dr. Myles
You can learn more about tooth whitening and similar treatment options by visiting us at our cosmetic dentistry office. Through a consultation with Dr. Wayne Myles, you can determine which cosmetic treatment will yield the best results and fewest risks for you. Contact us today to ask a question or schedule an appointment.