By Brock Thomas, DMD.
I was checking out at our local Safeway grocery store yesterday and the cash register person asked me why the teeth whitening solution (at her own dental office) was burning her gums. This question prompted me to add a note about what we have learned in the dentistry profession about teeth whitening over the years.
Dental teeth whitening involves actually removing the dark pigments that are in the internal parts of your teeth. Over the years, we eat and drink foods that seep into the porous parts of our teeth making them dark and unsightly. The chemical that is used to whiten teeth is not bleach (that would not be a good thing to put in your mouth) but rather a form of peroxide. These peroxides come in a variety of strengths and acidity levels. Whitening chemicals can dehydrate and irritate your teeth and gums.
Advantages to Seeing a Dentist
In addition to a burning sensation that some may feel around the gum tissue (like my cash register friend was experiencing), other reactions, such as temperature sensitivity and lack of effectiveness, are issues I see all too often with tooth whitening procedures. Some patients have good luck using teeth whitening strips that are sold over the counter but again problems like stripping of the teeth and gum issues can occur. It sounds self serving but sticking with a dental professional is probably the best way to go. At least if you encounter a problem, you will have a dentist to turn to who can help.
In my practice we use custom-designed teeth whitening trays made in a very accurate way for cosmetic dental treatments. Accuracy is important so that the whitening gel stays in the tray. It is when the gel seeps out of the tray that patients sometimes have the burning feeling around their gum tissue. We recommend and use only neutral pH whitening solutions that have the least chance of causing sensitivity. Educate yourself before you jump into whitening your teeth, or contact us with any questions you may have before you take the next step in brightening your smile!
By Brock Thomas, DMD