Whitening your teeth is a great way to improve your smile and increase your confidence. Flashing a bright white smile is a great way to make new friends, charm a date, and impress at a job interview. Certain foods and beverages can stain your teeth and dull your smile, and tooth whitening treatments help bring back your smile's natural brilliance. However, tooth whitening can have a down side. Some patients can experience what dentists call zingers – sharp pains in the teeth that can last several minutes at a time. As you can imagine, this can prevent patients from continuing their treatment. Whether you're whitening your teeth at home or getting professional treatments in the dentist's office, take a look at a few tips that can help you prevent tooth sensitivity after treatment.
Brush Your Teeth Before Treatment
If you're going to do the treatment yourself at home, make it the last thing that do at the end of the day. Brush your teeth before whitening them instead of after. Brushing immediately after a whitening treatment can irritate your teeth and lead to sensitivity later. Let them rest for the night after the treatment.
If you're getting your treatment done in the dentist's office, you may not be able to avoid brushing for the rest of the day – you still need to brush after any food or beverages. Try to give yourself as many hours as possible between the treatment and eating, drinking, or brushing.
Rinse Your Mouth Out Thoroughly After Treatment
While you may not want to brush your teeth after the treatment, you definitely do need to rinse thoroughly to ensure that all of the bleach is removed from your teeth. Though tooth bleach manufacturers do attempt to pH balance their products, the bleach will still be slightly acidic, which can contribute to tooth pain and sensitivity.
Rinsing your mouth with water will get rid of the acid, but rinsing your mouth with a pH balancing mouthwash is even better. This is something that you can make for yourself at home with easily-obtainable ingredients. Just add a teaspoon of baking soda to eight ounces of water, and add peppermint oil and xylitol (a cavity-fighting sugar substitute) for taste. Rinse your mouth for 45 to 60 seconds, then spit. Don't try to make this in very large batches – for optimum freshness, you'll need a new batch every three to four days.
Use a Desensitizing Gel Before Treatments
Desensitizing gels contain potassium nitrate and fluoride, and they can go a long way toward reducing tooth pain after a tooth whitening treatment. Your dentist will have to write you a prescription for the gel, so you should schedule a dental appointment before you begin your tooth whitening treatments, even if you intend to use over the counter whitening trays at home.
In a pinch, you can fill a tray with a desensitizing toothpaste that contains potassium nitrate, and treat your teeth with that instead of the desensitizing gel before you begin whitening. However, be warned that the toothpaste ingredients may irritate your gums. The gels are gentler and less likely to cause irritation.
Avoid Using More Bleach Than You Need
More is not always better. The more bleach you expose your teeth too, the more likely you are to experience pain or sensitivity. When bleaching at home, don't use concentrations that are higher than you need to achieve the shade of white that you're looking for, and don't leave the bleaching gels on your teeth for longer than the recommended time.
If you're unsure of the directions, or if you want more whitening than you're able to get from over the counter treatments, you may be better off with whitening treatments administered by the dentist, or at least with prescription strength take-home treatments that you can get from your dentist's office.
If all else fails, your dentist may prescribe pain medications for you to take following your whitening treatments. Be sure to discuss any prior incidences of tooth sensitivity with your dentist before you begin your whitening treatments. For more information, you can contact a local cosmetic dentistry clinic.
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