Thanks to regular coffee drinking, smoking, or even genetics, teeth can take on a yellow tinge, losing that pearly white shine. When this happens, many people turn to in-home or professional teeth whitening treatments. While these teeth whitening treatments can greatly improve the whiteness of your teeth, they can damage your gums.
Unfortunately, your gums are not as strong as your teeth, and the whitening agents used to restore your pearly whites can burn the soft tissue of the gums, similar to a chemical burn. These chemical burns occur because of the hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide used in the whitening gel. And they can happen whether you use an at-home whitening kit or go to the dentist for professional whitening.
Custom-fit whitening trays are a great place to start when it comes to protecting your gums during the teeth whitening process. At SportingSmiles, we offer custom trays made from a mold you can create in the comfort of your own home. Visit SportingSmiles today for more information.
The good news is there are some ways to help reduce the risk and injury to your gums while still restoring the bright look to your teeth.
Because teeth whitening gel can irritate the gums, dentists advise waiting to whiten your teeth. If you are currently suffering from gum disease, see your dentist first for cleaning, scaling, or root planning procedures before you consider whitening.
Know Your Whitening Gel Concentrations
Whitening gels come with a variety of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide concentrations. Professional whitening gel, like what is offered by SportingSmiles, has a higher concentration at 35 percent. Over-the-counter whitening products typically range from 5 to 15 percent. When using the higher concentration gels, you must carefully follow the instructions to reduce the risk of burns to the gums.
Higher concentration gels are offered by your dentist to use at home, as well as for in-office treatments. When using these higher concentrations at home, however, it is advised to use a custom-fit whitening tray.
Use a Custom-Fitted Tray to Protect Your Gums
Stock whitening trays, or the one-size-fits-all varieties, are common for teeth whitening. Unfortunately, because these trays do not always fit correctly in your mouth, it is easier for the tooth whitening gel to leak out and irritate and burn your gums.
Custom trays come for a direct mold of your teeth and gums. Because of this, the mold fits your teeth, making sure that the whitening gel evenly comes in contact with the surface of your teeth without pushing the gel out and onto your gums.
Do Not Fill the Tray Too Full
When it comes to teeth whitening and the teeth whitening gel, a little goes a long way. Carefully follow your instructions when it comes to applying the gel into the tray and do not use more than recommended. Too much gel and it will leak out of the whitening tray, covering your gums.
This is another reason where custom trays make a big difference. Because custom trays mold to your teeth, you can use less whitening gel and greatly reduce the risk of gum injury.
Remove Teeth Whitening Gel When It Comes in Contact with Gums
Despite your best efforts and follow the directions perfectly, a little gel leaks out. What can you do? When applying whitening trays to your teeth, always keep Q-tips handy. In areas where the gel leaks out, use the Q-tip to immediately wipe the gel away from the gums. While it can still irritate the gums in that short time, removing it quickly can help reduce the risk of injury.
See Your Dentist if Irritation Continues
If, after following these guidelines, you still get some gum damage while whitening your teeth, the good news is in most cases, the gums heal completely within a few days. They may appear white in color and be very sensitive. If, however, your gums are not healing after a few days, or begin bleeding, make an appointment with your dentist to make sure there isn’t a more serious injury or sensitivity.
Teeth whitening is a relatively safe way to make your teeth their whitest and, while gum injury and sensitivity are common, following these guidelines will help reduce your risk. For more information on SportingSmiles custom-fitted whitening trays and gels, visit HERE.