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  Category: Articles » Health & Fitness » Dental Health » Article

Teeth Whitening and Sensitive Teeth

By Jared Winston

Tooth whitening to achieve that "perfect" smile has recently become extremely popular. However, there is a price to be paid for that beautiful smile. One of the side effects of tooth whitening is temporarily increased sensitivity to heat or cold. This increase in sensitivity is seen by most people as being a minor side effect of treatment, plus it usually goes away after treatment is over. However, if your teeth are already overly sensitive to temperature, then you may need to be more careful in choosing and using a tooth whitening method.

There are several different methods available for applying the whitening agent to your teeth. One is the tray type system, which uses a carrier tray to hold the whitening agent next to your teeth. Another method is the popular whitening "strips", which are made of very thin plastic impregnated with the whitening agent. These strips are designed to adhere to your teeth when pressed onto them firmly. Also available are gels which contain the whitening agent. They have a thick consistency which allows them to be applied to your teeth and stay until wiped off.

The increased sensitivity is caused by the main ingredient used in most tooth whitening products, either carbomide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide. These two compounds are actually forms of bleach, hence you may see the terms "tooth whitening" and "tooth bleaching" used interchangeably. If you are using a product that contains either of these compounds, there are a few steps you can take to lessen the increase in thermal sensitivity.

One way to reduce the sensitivity is to reduce the time that the tooth whitening product remains on your teeth. For example, if the instructions call for 2 hours per treatment, then reduce this to only 1 hour. Another way would be to increase the time between treatments. If the usual frequency is once per day, then try doing the treatments every other day. If you still experience discomfort you could do both - decrease the treatment time to 1 hour and perform the treatments every other day.

Remember, even people who do not initially have sensitive teeth usually experience a temporary increase in sensitivity during treatment, so you will probably still experience some discomfort. Another suggestion is to brush your teeth before and after treatment with a toothpaste especially designed for sensitive teeth. These toothpastes usually use a flouride compound to de-sensitize your teeth. There are several different ones on the market Also, if you discuss your plans with your dentist, they may able to provide you with a professional flouride treatment that can be applied at home.

One other option is available if you have tried the tooth whiteners and find that they are too uncomfortable. You can use one of the available tooth whitening toothpastes, which will clean your teeth with a mild abrasive rather than bleach them. These tooth whitening toothpastes do not use bleach, so you should not experience any added sensitivity, but they will not whiten your teeth as much as bleaching.

As your can see, if you have sensitive teeth, the tooth whitening process may take longer and require a little extra effort, but you should be able to achieve the same results in the end: a whiter, brighter smile.

Copyright Jared Winston, 2006. All Rights Reserved.

About the Author
Laser teeth whitening is becoming an increasingly popular cosmetic procedure. Learn more about the various tooth whitening products, systems and more at Lustrous

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