Why Do My Teeth Hurt After Whitening
Why Do My Teeth Hurt After Whitening

Everyone wants to have a beautiful, bright white smile. But, over time, your teeth can stain and begin to look more yellow than white. Professional teeth whitening can restore your teeth back to their original brightness and remove those pesky stains. However, some patients experience sensitivity after whitening treatments. This sensitivity can last anywhere from a few hours to several days. Dealing with sensitivity can be frustrating, but understanding what causes it can help with prevention.

Why Do My Teeth Hurt After Whitening 

So, just why do your teeth hurt after a whitening treatment? The answer starts with a basic understanding of how whitening treatments work and how they affect your teeth. Keep reading as we dive into all the details below.

How Do Teeth Whitening Treatments Work?

You probably already know that teeth whitening treatments remove stains from your teeth. But, we need to dive a little deeper into the details of the treatments to understand why they can cause your teeth to hurt.

First, nearly all professional whitening treatments contain the same active ingredients. Hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide are the most common, and these are found in almost all of the professional treatments on the market. These peroxide ingredients contain oxygen molecules that interact with the stains on your teeth.

As these oxygen molecules come into contact with the stains on your teeth, they go to work at the molecular level. They start to break the bonds that hold those stains on your teeth. Thus, the stains disappear and your teeth are restored to their natural whiteness. So, why does this cause your teeth to hurt? We’ll explain why in the next section.

Why Do Whitening Treatments Cause Sensitivity?

We should start by saying that no one knows for sure what causes the sensitivity associated with teeth whitening treatments. However, there are some leading theories that most dental professionals tend to agree with. Here is the most likely cause of the pain.

As the volatile oxygen molecules in the treatment remove the stains on your teeth, those molecules also interact with the enamel and dentin on your teeth. Many professionals believe that these treatments can cause a slight demineralization of your teeth. This really just means that the treatments make your teeth more porous.

When your teeth become more porous, the microtubules in your teeth become exposed to the outside environment. Although they can’t be seen with the naked eye, these microscopic tubules lead from the surface of your tooth all the way to the nerve endings in the center of your tooth. Hot or cold items placed into your mouth then have a direct pathway to the nerves in the center of your tooth, and pain can sometimes be felt as a result of this.

How Long Does Sensitivity Last After A Whitening Treatment

Thankfully, teeth sensitivity typically starts to go away soon after you stop whitening treatments. The reason for this is that your teeth begin to remineralize quickly. Once the whitening treatments are stopped, the tubules begin to seal themselves back up. This blocks the direct access from the tooth surface to the nerves inside the tooth.

Once the tubules re-seal, the sensitivity is usually completely gone. This process typically occurs within just a few days, so the pain associated with whitening treatments usually doesn’t last very long. If you have pain that lasts more than a few days, you should contact your dental professional for additional guidance.

How To Avoid Sensitivity After Whitening

There are some things you can do to help prevent sensitivity after teeth whitening treatments. First, if you have naturally sensitive teeth, you should discuss this with your dentist before undergoing a whitening treatment. They can help you decide on the best option for your situation.

Many take-home whitening kits are not as harsh as the treatments provided in the office. These kits are designed to work more slowly, and they usually cause fewer sensitivity issues. Similarly, using toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth can also help reduce the sensitivity effects of whitening treatments.

If you would like to whiten and brighten your teeth but are concerned about the possible pain of the procedure, talk to your dentist about it. There are many options available today that will allow you to whiten your teeth without the sensitivity that often comes along with some of the older types of treatment.

Schedule Your Teeth Whitening At NVO Today

If you want to get your bright, white smile back, then contact Northern Virginia Orthodontics to request an appointment today. Our professional staff will discuss all the options available to you, and we will work with you to decide on the best whitening treatment for your situation. Your comfort is always at the top of our minds, and we have many options available to help restore your smile without any discomfort. Contact us today to get the process started!