Why Do My Teeth Hurt After Going For Whitening Treatment?

Why Do My Teeth Hurt After Going For Whitening Treatment?

Teeth whitening continues to grow in popularity, with celebrities and influencers driving trends on social media and endorsing teeth whitening products. It is almost as important as putting on cosmetics, as one of the beauty-related treatments one could go for.

Having an attractive smile with pearly white teeth is associated with looking good. However, the thing with beauty is that achieving a pearly white smile is not easy, especially with many common foods and drinks that are known to stain our teeth. Hence, the immense popularity of teeth whitening treatments.

Professional teeth whitening addresses such issues to give you a bright smile that helps to boost your self-confidence. It is also a safer and more effective alternative to common over-the-counter teeth whitening kits.

While teeth whitening offers immense aesthetic benefits, it is not without any risks. Apart from having to avoid certain foods and drinks after the treatment, some individuals experience slight pain and discomfort. In this article, we will explore more about the uncomfortable side effects and what you can do about it.

Teeth whitening can irritate dental nerves

The whitening treatment goes beyond just the surfaces of the teeth. It also affects the inner structure of the teeth. Hence, it is a procedure best conducted by dental professionals.

The primary whitening component is carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide, which is a form of bleaching agent. Basically, it will penetrate the teeth structure, oxidising the colour compounds in the enamel and dentine, which is the layer of living tissue that lies immediately beneath the enamel. When the pigment molecules are broken down by the bleaching agent, the overall colour of the tooth will then be  brighter.

The reason why teeth might be uncomfortable or painful afterward is because the  acidity of the bleaching solution changes the dentine permeability, thereby exciting the nerves in the dental pulp that lie beneath the dentine.

Teeth whitening can irritate soft tissues

Apart from irritating your dental nerves, the peroxide employed in the whitening process can also irritate soft tissues in the mouth, such as the gums, causing sensations similar to sunburn. The affected gum becomes slightly sore and becomes paler. Ulcers may also develop in the process.

The risk of developing gum irritation increases with the use of over-the-counter whitening kits. As they are normally mass-produced, using them may result in poor fitting or improper application, causing the bleaching agent to leak onto the tongue and gums, burning them in the process.

How long does the discomfort usually last?

Dental irritation after teeth whitening should subside after a couple of days, sometimes within 24 hours. If the pain and discomfort persists, you should consider seeing your dentist.

How do you reduce the discomfort and pain?

Taking anti-inflammatory medication before conducting the whitening procedure can help to minimise the discomfort afterwards. Additionally, you would also want to brush before the procedure as you will have to avoid brushing immediately after the procedure. Brushing your teeth to help remove as much plaque as possible will help the whitening agent to have better contact with your teeth.

After the procedure, your dentist would also advise you to avoid acidic, cold, or hot food and drinks for a short period as they can boost the sensitivity of your gums and teeth.

With that being said, not everybody will experience the same level of discomfort and pain. Some might not even experience anything. The hypersensitivity of the dentine will also depend on how much enamel you have left on your teeth. If you have sensitive teeth, your dentist might even recommend you use a desensitising toothpaste that contains potassium nitrate and fluoride to help counter any discomfort after the treatment.


Professional teeth whitening is still the safest way to get it done. While dental discomfort and pain are normal, they typically last only for a couple of days, and even then, there are ways to reduce the discomfort, such as taking anti-inflammatory medications or avoiding certain foods and drinks.

Here at BigSmile Dental Clinic, we offer teeth whitening treatment at an affordable cost. Apart from that, we also provide orthodontic solutions, from invisible braces to traditional metal braces. Take charge of your dental health today! Contact us to find out more!