Laser teeth whitening can remove the most stubborn stains and help dental patients smile confidently. The process has been a staple of cosmetic dentistry for many years, and most patients tolerate it well, with minimal discomfort. Under the auspices of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, the Food and Drug Administration approves specific laser tools and bleaching agents for in-office treatments.
What does the procedure involve?
The procedure occurs in a dental office and involves coating the teeth with a concentrated bleaching gel before shining a heat-generating laser or light on them. The heat allows the gel to penetrate beyond the enamel into the underlying dentin, where it bleaches stains challenging to remove by other means.
What should patients expect?
Although laser teeth whitening is a fast and painless procedure with excellent results, patients may experience some temporary sensitivity of the teeth and gums. Dentists can answer common questions about sensitivity.
What causes sensitivity after whitening?
Dentists apply a bleaching solution to the surface of the teeth. The solution penetrates the outer enamel layer until it reaches the underlying dentin layer. As the solution works its way through the layers, it enters the channels in the enamel leading to underlying nerve endings that may become sensitive upon contact.
How long does this sensitivity last?
Teeth sensitivity is a temporary side effect of whitening treatments. It gradually disappears over the days following a session. Most people stop feeling it within three or four days of treatment. Some people do not experience any sensitivity following treatment.
What can ease post-treatment sensitivity?
Most patients experience minimal or no discomfort following laser whitening. Others may opt to take an over-the-counter pain reliever to eliminate short-term mild discomfort or sensitivity. Other recommendations to ease discomfort include:
- Brushing with toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth
- Avoiding hot or cold beverages and foods
- Avoiding acidic drinks and foods
- Drinking with a straw
Does sensitivity indicate damage from the whitening process?
Laser teeth whitening can safely improve the appearance of teeth with stubborn stains. Although a dentist uses rubber barriers to prevent irritation of the gums and inner cheeks, the solution contains low levels of peroxide, which are not damaging to oral tissue and teeth. Sensitivity is a benign consequence of the solution touching nerve endings.
What does ongoing sensitivity indicate?
Sensitivity that lasts longer than a few days, or worsens, could indicate a problem unrelated to laser teeth whitening, including injuries, cavities, root exposure, or other dental complications. Patients with existing dental problems may not be suitable candidates for the procedure, and all patients should undergo a thorough dental examination to qualify for it.
Will anything reduce sensitivity during the whitening process?
Although many dental patients do not experience sensitivity during the whitening process, anyone who wants to minimize potential discomfort can start brushing using a formula for sensitive teeth during the days or weeks following treatment. An over-the-counter pain reliever taken about an hour before treatment is also helpful.
Although most people tolerate laser teeth whitening well, some may experience teeth sensitivity that gradually dissipates. Speak with a knowledgeable dentist to learn more about qualifying for this popular dental procedure.
Request an appointment or call Encino Cosmetic & Dental Implants at 818-578-2333 for an appointment in our Encino office.
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