Does Bleaching or Whitening Your Teeth Hurt?

Video: Dr. Katz explains why teeth bleaching can cause minor issues.

To answer this question, it's necessary to understand the difference between bleaching and whitening. Teeth have several layers – enamel is the outer layer, the next is dentin, then pulp or the nerve. Bleaching products typically include a form of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. These ingredients help remove deep stains and actually change the natural tooth color. The bleaching agent penetrates the enamel rods, creating microscopic hollowness that allows the agent to dissolve stains in the dentin. In contrast, non-bleaching whitening products contain ingredients that only remove surface stains on the enamel without changing the natural tooth color.

Potential Side Effects of Bleaching

The most common side effects of peroxide-based bleaching agents are tooth sensitivity and occasional irritation of soft tissues in the mouth, especially the gums. Tooth sensitivity is often associated with early stages of bleaching treatment. Tissue irritation can also result from poorly fitting mouth trays holding the bleaching product. In most cases, these problems are temporary and stop after treatment. On rare occasions, irreversible tooth damage has been reported.

When you're using a bleaching product, test it for a few minutes first to make sure you aren't sensitive. You can try it for incrementally longer sessions to ensure you don't experience a reaction. For instance, the first night try it for a few minutes and if it's fine, add a few minutes onto the next session, and so on and so forth.

Does Teeth Whitening Hurt?

In general, products that only remove surface stains don't hurt, although they can be messy or a little unpleasant (e.g. tooth strips). Several whitening options exist for people with sensitive teeth. Although some people experience minor tooth sensitivity or gum irritation, dental whitening gel, rinses, and toothpaste do not damage tooth enamel.

The American Dental Association (ADA) says most in-office and dentist-prescribed at-home bleaching techniques are effective, although results may vary depending on the type of stain, age of the individual, concentration of the active agent, and treatment time and frequency. They also recommend that anyone who is considering bleaching their teeth only do so after consulting with a dentist.

At-home consumer whitening products include gels with moldable mouth trays, rinses, chewing gums, toothpastes, paint-on films and strips. Therabrite Plus toothpaste is a bad breath fighting formula combined with Diatomic whitening agents that blasts away surface stains, helping you achieve a white, bright, and healthy smile!

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