Patient Help: Dealing with Sensitivity During Whitening Treatment

Tooth sensitivity is a common side effect of carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide tooth whitening solutions, especially those applied in custom-fitted arch trays. Most often, sensitivity is temporary and treatable, and each patient's experience will be different. It's important that you talk to your patients about sensitivity before whitening treatment begins as part of the pre-whitening consultation (a touching air test can be used to help determine patient sensitivity levels) - and then during and after their whitening treatment.

If your patient has a history of sensitivity, you may recommend the following steps to help prevent sensitivity during the whitening treatment:

  1. Use a soft-bristle toothbrush and brush your teeth with a desensitizing toothpaste that contains potassium nitrate for two weeks prior to starting the treatment
  2. Remove any acidic beverages and food from your diet
  3. Brush with a desensitizing toothpaste 30 minutes before you insert your tray and wait 30 minutes after whitening to brush again
  4. Begin your whitening treatment with a low-concentration Opalescence product, or whichever Opalescence product your dentist recommends
  5. Wear a prefilled tray or custom tray filled with UltraEZ for 30-60 minutes once a day for 1-2 days

If your patient experiences sensitivity during their whitening treatment, you may suggest one or more of the following treatment options:

  1. Reduce concentration of whitening material and reduce wear time
  2. Change from night wear to day wear
  3. Skip a night or day of whitening
  4. Continue or start brushing with a desensitizing toothpaste containing potassium nitrate
  5. Wear a prefilled tray or custom tray filled with UltraEZ for 30-60 minutes a day prior to the start of each treatment
  6. Stop whitening for a period of time

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