If you’ve been considering teeth whitening or teeth bleaching treatments to get that picture-perfect smile, you will need to undergo a dental consultation to make sure your teeth and gums are healthy enough to tolerate the abrasive bleaching process. Unlike over-the-counter teeth whitening trays and products that promise to whiten teeth within a few hours without any side effects, professional-grade bleaching systems can be strong enough to damage the teeth and gums over time.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends undergoing a thorough oral evaluation before getting a teeth whitening treatment at a mall or a spa, and also before using over-the-counter products at home. Many types of bleach and whitening products contain peroxide that help to remove surface stains and create a whiter appearance. However, there are several products that contain non-bleaching whitening compounds, and these can trigger a number of reactions around the gum area.
Side Effects of Teeth Whitening and Bleaching Treatments
Gum irritation is one of the most common side effects of the teeth bleaching process. The compounds found in many teeth whitening and teeth bleaching kits can cause mild allergic reactions in the skin around your mouth and along the gum line, so pay attention to how your mouth feels within a few hours after the bleaching treatment.
Tooth sensitivity is another common side effect of teeth whitening and teeth bleaching. You may start to feel pain or tingling when eating very hot or very cold foods after a teeth whitening treatment, because the gums have become irritated and your teeth may actually have started to wear down. If you notice a significant difference in the level of sensitivity shortly after starting a teeth whitening program, consult with your dentist to make sure the tooth sensitivity is not due to an underlying problem.
If you are using a home bleaching gel, you may experience burning or nausea after accidentally ingesting some of the bleaching gel. Be cautious when using these gels because they can have a toxic effect on the body and cause side effects such as vomiting, headaches and constipation.
Ways to Avoid the Side Effects of Teeth Whitening Treatments
If you are undergoing teeth bleaching treatments on a schedule or a regular basis, you may need to slow down the frequency of the whitening process when you start to experience common side effects. Gum irritation and tooth sensitivity from the products and gels used in the process will only increase with more treatments, so scaling back on the number of bleaching treatments may be your best option.
If you start to experience severe pain or significant gum tissue deterioration, you will need to see a cosmetic dentist or your regular dentist who can clean your teeth thoroughly and restore your gums and teeth to a healthier state. During this rehabilitation and recovery period, you will not be a good candidate for any type of teeth bleaching or teeth whitening treatment.
Learn more about teeth whitening treatments in our information guide, or consult with a cosmetic dentist in your area to find out if your mouth is healthy enough for a teeth bleaching session.