The best way to prevent tooth sensitivity is through good oral hygiene, regular dental check-ups and daily flossing. Despite these measures, some people are more prone to have sensitivity due to eroded tooth enamel or exposed nerve endings. This common problem is especially noticeable when the teeth are exposed to hot or cold temperatures such as coffee or ice cream. The good news is that people with sensitive teeth can still enjoy the benefits of a bright luminous smile, thanks to modern advances in teeth whitening treatments.
Considering the wide variety of at-home kits and professional teeth bleaching treatments, which method is the best for sensitive teeth? The first step is having a dental exam that can pinpoint the cause of tooth discoloration while identifying underlying problems – such as cavities and decay – that need to be addressed first. After that, your dentist will recommend the best tooth whitening treatment for your particular case, and some simple things you can do beforehand to minimize additional discomfort.
For patients who suffer from sensitive teeth on a daily basis, there are several tricks that can help reduce pain and make the tooth whitening process more bearable. First, steer clear of highly acidic foods and use a soft-bristled or ultrasonic toothbrush. The regular use of a de-sensitizing toothpaste is also very helpful in minimizing temperature sensitivity. For more extreme cases, patients may be asked to do at-home fluoride tray treatments before the whitening.
Once you are ready for the whitening treatment, your dentist will use a solution with a lower-strength whitening gel (which is generally peroxide-based). There are dozens of tooth whitening products marketed under varying brand names, but most use the same active ingredient to lift stains and discoloration from the tooth enamel. By choosing a lower concentration (less than 10-15 percent), the product can safely whiten teeth in a gentle way that causes no nerve irritation. This may take a little longer than the stronger solutions but the results are still dramatic and, best of all, pain-free.
Another effective step in reducing tooth sensitivity during bleaching is to use potassium nitrate, which desensitizes teeth during the process. Your dentist may even prescribe a special MI paste that re-mineralizes and strengthens the teeth prior to whitening.
The actual duration and frequency of the whitening treatment are the next most important factors. Treatments that are normally 30 minutes long may be scaled back to just 15 minutes, to help mitigate risks of increased discomfort. Spacing the sessions farther apart can also make a big difference.
Some of the more advanced whitening treatments have special components that counteract the dehydrating effects of peroxide, which wicks moisture out of the teeth, thus creating less risk for sensitivity.
Keep in mind that all patients can experience sensitivity during a tooth whitening treatment, ranging from shooting pains to a mild throbbing. Though uncomfortable, the pain is not permanent and does not reflect long-term damage to the tooth structure.
At Long Island Implant & Cosmetic Dentistry, Dr. Elliot and Dr. Nick can determine the safest and most effective whitening treatment for patients with sensitive teeth, and offer both at-home kits and Sinsational Smiles® – a revolutionary light-activated treatment that promises a whiter smile in just 20 minutes!
To schedule an appointment, please call our Suffolk County cosmetic dentistry office at (631) 296-0602.
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