The mandatory Instagram photo session is over and you’re excited to finally chow down on your gorgeous ice cream waffle. Just as you bite into your Thai milk tea flavoured ice cream, a jolt of pain shoots through your teeth and you almost spit out your ice cream in surprise.
Where did that come from? You take a smaller, tentative bite and feel the pain radiating through your teeth.
Your excitement drains away as you confirm that you have sensitive teeth – possibly due to your recent efforts in teeth whitening.
No pain, no gain?
A common side effect of using a teeth whitening kit in Singapore is increased gum and teeth sensitivity. This is because most contain hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide (which breaks down to hydrogen peroxide).
While these chemicals are extremely effective in penetrating your teeth and bleaching the dentin within, they also come into contact with the nerves within which causes heightened sensitivity.
Here are a few other reasons that are making your teeth and gums more sensitive:
1. Hydrogen peroxide concentration is too high
You might be using a teeth whitening solution that has a hydrogen peroxide concentration that is too high for you.
The maximum allowed hydrogen peroxide concentration is 0.1% for a home teeth whitening product in Singapore. Make sure you aren’t using a product that exceeds this hydrogen peroxide concentration as the hydrogen peroxide can cause chemical burns on your teeth and gums.
Some people’s teeth may also be more sensitive to hydrogen peroxide which increases your discomfort when consuming hot and cold food and drinks.
2. Prolonged contact time with whitening gel
If you leave your whitening gel on for too long, that can increase your exposure to hydrogen peroxide and cause teeth sensitivity.
So DON’T sleep with your whitening trays on! You might miss any warning signs of heightened sensitivity and cause chemical burns.
3. Poorly fitted whitening trays
If you are not using custom whitening trays, there may be an uneven distribution of whitening gel across your teeth. Certain areas of your teeth may have greater exposure to the hydrogen peroxide which causes heightened teeth sensitivity. The whitening gel may also come into contact with your gums and irritate the gums, increasing gum sensitivity.
4. Managing sensitivity on the quest for whiter teeth
If you’re facing teeth and gum sensitivity while using teeth whitening treatments, all is not lost.
Here are some ways to whiten your teeth without having to cringe in pain each time you want to have an icy cold drink on a hot sunny afternoon.
What you can do: Choose carbamide peroxide
Carbamide peroxide is a better alternative to hydrogen peroxide if you have more sensitive teeth.
This is because it breaks down over a longer period of time to form hydrogen peroxide, so you’re not exposing your teeth and gums to high concentrations of hydrogen peroxide at once.
Carbamide peroxide contains hydrogen peroxide in a ratio of 1:3, so it is safe at a concentration of 0.3% when the maximum allowed hydrogen peroxide concentration for non-medical whitening gels is 0.1%.
Don’t leave your teeth whitening trays on beyond the recommended time
Leaving your teeth whitening trays on for prolonged periods of time does not make your teeth whiter.
If you’re experiencing teeth and gum sensitivity even after following the recommended time, you may want to consider reducing the time further as your teeth may just naturally be more sensitive to the chemicals used.
Get custom-fitted teeth whitening trays
If you are using home treatments that provide a single size of whitening trays, that may result in an uneven distribution of the teeth whitening gel.
Go for providers that provide custom-fitted teeth whitening trays which may involve a visit to the dentist to get a mould of your teeth. Sure, this might be more troublesome but this can be the difference between a pain-free, carefree experience and the agonising torture of not being able to eat your favourite foods because your teeth hurt too much.
Look for added ingredients that desensitise your teeth
Some whitening gels contain potassium nitrate, a chemical that calms the nerves in your gums and teeth to reduce sensitivity. Using these gels can help you whiten your teeth and reduce the teeth and gum sensitivity that comes with it.
Want a straighter smile after you brighten your teeth?
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