The Side Effects of Teeth Whitening: What Patients Should Know

May 21, 2015 @ 09:04 AM — by Lauren Shanard

A young woman smilingDr. Lauren Shanard has helped countless patients in and around the Williston area with their dental care needs. This means improving the health and aesthetics of smiles. In many cases, patients have benefited a great deal from professional teeth whitening for tooth discoloration and stains.

While professional teeth whitening is very safe and effective, there are a few potential side effects to keep in mind. We'd like to go over these in a bit of detail right now so that you have realistic expectations about the treatment process and what it entails.

Are the side effects of teeth whitening treatment serious?


Thankfully the side effects of teeth whitening are typically very mild and not serious at all. What's more, the side effects of teeth whitening tend to be very temporary, only lasting a few days, and typically only significant in the first day or two of treatment.

The most common side effect is tooth sensitivity, and a rare potential side effect is gum irritation. Let's look at each right now in a bit more detail.

Tooth Sensitivity After Teeth Whitening

Tooth sensitivity occurs after tooth whitening because of the way dentinal tubules react to the bleaching solution. The dentinal tubules are small pores that are located in the dentin layer of a tooth, which is the layer of the tooth located beneath the topmost enamel layer. When the whitening gel is in place, it can case the dentinal tubules to be extra sensitive, making hot or cold beverages/foods a major source of discomfort.

How long will tooth sensitivity last?

In most cases, the tooth sensitivity following teeth whitening treatment will last two to three days.

Ways of Reducing Tooth Sensitivity After Teeth Whitening

In order to reduce discomfort in those days when tooth sensitivity is most pronounced, patients are recommended to consider the following:

  • Avoid Foods/Beverages That Are Hot or Cold in Temperature – Think of lukewarm or room-temperature foods/beverages instead
  • Rise/Gargle with Lukewarm Water – When brushing your teeth or cleaning your mouth, use lukewarm water to avoid sensitivity

Gum Irritation After Teeth Whitening

A much rarer side effect of tooth whitening is gum irritation. This occurs when the teeth whitening gel winds up on the gum tissue rather than remaining on the teeth. When this happens, a person's gums become irritated and sore. The gum irritation, should it occur, will last two to three days, though can vary.

Ways Your Dentist Prevents Gum Irritation During the Whitening Process

When you undergo professional teeth whitening, your dentist will carefully supervise the process to ensure that the whitening gel remains on your teeth and stays off of your gums. This is one of the many benefits of professional teeth whitening: you undergo treatment that is very safe as well as quite effective.

How to Avoid Gum Irritation When Using Professional At-Home Kits

If you are using a professional-grade teeth whitening kit at home as given to you by your dentist, be sure to follow all instructions carefully. If you do get any whitening gel on your gums, do not panic, Simply wipe it away with a cotton swab as soon as you notice. Doing this will prevent or minimize gum irritation from teeth whitening treatment.

Learn More About Teeth Whitening Treatment

For more information about teeth whitening treatment and whether or not it's the ideal treatment option for you and your needs, be sure to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry center today. Dr. Lauren Shanard will work with you to ensure that you receive excellent dental care that leaves your smile as beautiful and healthy as possible.

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