Everyone experiences gum irritation from teeth whitening to some degree. If you’ve ever burned the inside of your mouth on hot food or drink, you know that irritating your oral cavity’s soft tissue can be seriously painful. Hot foods and drinks aren’t the only things that can burn or irritate your soft tissue, including your gum tissue – if you’re not careful, you can damage your gum tissue while whitening your teeth.
Whitening your teeth will not cause any permanent damage to your gums; however temporary gum irritation is among the risk factors of using professional teeth whitening. Soft tissue or gum irritation caused by teeth whitening gel is considered a chemical burn, very comparable to a sunburn. When a chemical burn occurs, the area becomes mildly sore, turns white, and will eventually flake off. The tissue will return to normalcy within twenty-four hours.
Hydrogen peroxide is one of the main ingredients in teeth whitening products, and it can often cause irritation or a burning sensation around the gums. While the amount of hydrogen peroxide included in teeth whitening products is safe to use, exposing your gums to this agent may lead to sensitivity or pain.
Typically, whitening toothpaste contains little or no bleaching agents but helps brighten your teeth by scrubbing away stains. These kinds of toothpaste are less likely to irritate or burn the gums if they have no hydrogen peroxide. You might experience some irritation if you brush too hard, but the ingredients themselves are unlikely to cause a problem.
Besides feeling a chemical burn, you might recognise gum irritation during the whitening process if your gums develop white spots or parts of your gum turn white. Your gums might become inflamed, and you could experience tooth sensitivity as well.
So how do you protect your gums when whitening your teeth? There are many steps you can take to minimize the uncomfortable side effects of teeth whitening and prevent burned gums from teeth whitening. Here are a few strategies to try:
Let’s say you’re in the middle of a whitening treatment at home, and you feel a slight burning in your gums. What can you do? First, stop the treatment: Remove the tray or the whitening product. Don’t wait until the burning gets worse! Then, rinse your mouth: Rinsing with warm saltwater swishes away any lingering bleaching product and soothes the irritation.
As long as you stop the bleaching treatment quickly, the good news is that gum irritation usually resolves on its own after a few days. Saltwater rinses will help relieve discomfort during recovery. If needed, over-the-counter pain relievers can dull the irritation or burning feeling.
If your burns seem severe, become inflamed, or cause you concern in any way, it’s a good idea to visit your dentist. By looking at the injury, your dental professional can tell you if home care will be enough to treat the injury or if there are other options needed to relieve your injured gums.
1. Warm and Cold Compresses
Applying compresses directly to your gums is a great way to relieve pain. You can choose to go with either a hot or cold compress, or you can switch from one to the other until your pain subsides.
To use a hot compress, run your water until it gets hot — but not scalding hot — and wet a clean cloth with the hot water. Wring out any excess water and place the cloth over your mouth where the pain is. For a cold compress, wrap an ice pack or ice cubes in a clean cloth and place it over the painful area of your mouth.
2. Salt Water Rinse
Salt water rinses are a great way to reduce inflammation in the mouth. The salt helps get rid of bacteria in your mouth and prevents further bacteria growth. We have a homemade salt water rinse recipe that you can make with just three ingredients.
3. Tea Bags
Using black or green tea (or any tea with astringent benefits), soak the tea bag in boiling water for at least five minutes. Then let the bag cool off so it’s not boiling hot and place on top of your gums where the pain is. You could also use tea with anti-inflammatory properties such as chamomile or ginger tea.
4. Herbal Paste
Try making your own herbal paste to spread along your irritated gums using mouth-safe ingredients like turmeric or cloves. Turmeric is a bright yellow-orange spice that contains curcumin, which can help reduce inflammation and protect the mouth against gum disease and gingivitis. Cloves contain an ingredient that helps numb the nerves in your mouth temporarily, which will help provide relief from toothache or pain related to inflammation.
First, start with a powdered form of turmeric or clove and mix with a small amount of warm water. Mix until it forms a paste, adding more powdered turmeric,clove, or water until the consistency is just right. Apply some of the paste directly to the site of your gum pain. Leave the paste on for a few minutes and then rinse it away, being careful not to swallow any of the paste.
If you’re experiencing tooth or gum pain, or think you might have chemical burns from teeth whitening, contact Toothfairy by booking an emergency appointment with one of our dentists here: www.toothfairyapp.co.uk/emergency