Tooth sensitivity from teeth whitening treatments performed at White Smile Clinic Dublin, Cork and Limerick surgeries has almost been eradicated. There have been huge advances in the last few years in reducing tooth sensitivity from laser teeth whitening treatments. It is difficult to measure if a patient will feel tooth sensitivity or indeed feel anything at all. In 90% of cases tooth sensitivity is completely absent or minimal making the laser teeth whitening experience very comfortable in recent years.

We believe at White Smile Clinic it is important to raise this issue and to educate our patients on the science behind tooth sensitivity from tooth whitening. We know from calls to our main appointment reservation centre that one of the most prevalent queries from potential patients is regarding tooth sensitivity – we would like to shed some light on the science behind the most queried aspect of laser teeth whitening. Some patients may be more susceptible to tooth sensitivity than others, patients most likely to feel sensitivity are those with gum recession (generally from excessive pressure when tooth brushing) and younger people. Also old leaking tooth restorations may aggravate the pulp of the tooth too and cause sensitivity.

The main reason for tooth sensitivity stems from the concentration of hydrogen peroxide used, the more concentration the more rapid the bleaching effect and the better the results. The higher the concentration, the more likely it is a patient will feel sensitivity. Prior to October 2012, the concentration of hydrogen peroxide used for in clinic laser teeth whitening was 35%. From October 2012 on, hydrogen peroxide concentration was capped at 6% across Europe through an EU Directive. In addition to the reduction in peroxide concentration levels, laser teeth whitening system manufacturers have developed lights that help to reduce sensitivity.

The laser helps to activate the whitening gels and open the tubules present in the enamel of the teeth. As the tubules open during the laser teeth whitening process it allows whitening gels to flow through the teeth to pulp and bleach any staining present in the teeth. As the bleaching gels reach the pulp area sensitivity will be felt when coming in contact with the nerves. The dentine tubules stay open for up to 24 hours after the whitening treatment and sensitivity may be felt for 24 to 48 hours.

In conclusion, advances and regulations in teeth whitening treatments in recent years have resulted in zero to minor tooth sensitivity for patients making the laser teeth whitening treatment extremely comfortable compared with teeth whitening treatments three or four years ago. If sensitivity is felt by patients we recommend the use of fluoride to rub into teeth as it acts as a tubule blocker to limit fluid flow to the pulp of the tooth and less contact with nerves. Also, Sensi Kin gel reduces sensitivity in teeth and maintains healthy gums. Finally, if you as a patient have been deliberating over having a laser teeth whitening treatment due to the fear of sensitivity – fear not – the days of discomfort from tooth whitening are over.