burned gums from teeth whitening - colgate au

Burned Gums from Teeth Whitening: What You Need to Know

If you’ve ever burned the inside of your mouth on a hot pizza slice, you know that irritating your oral cavity’s soft tissue is no laughing matter. Hot foods and drinks aren’t the only things that can burn or irritate your soft tissue, including your gingival (gum) tissue. If you’re not careful, you can experience burned gums from teeth whitening, too.

At-home teeth whitening products have loads of benefits, especially as they’re easy on your budget and busy schedule. Yet, for the sake of your oral health, it’s essential to know that teeth whitening may lead to gum irritation or burning. Gum irritation symptoms during whitening are usually short-lived, but let’s learn how to spot the signs – and how to soothe them. Better still, learn how to avoid these annoying symptoms in the first place!

What causes gum irritation during whitening?

Over-the-counter tooth whitening products include toothpaste and products with bleaching agents, such as whitening strips, gels, rinses, pens and gel trays. Typically, whitening toothpaste contains little or no bleaching agents but helps brighten your teeth by scrubbing away stains. These toothpaste types are less likely to irritate or burn the gums especially 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

Usually, tooth whitening products with bleaching agents contain either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. According to healthdirect, the most common side effects include gum irritation and tooth sensitivity. However, these are often temporary. Further, teeth sensitivity is more of an issue with power bleaching – an in-chair treatment with a higher concentration of bleach than take-home trays.

Besides feeling a chemical burn, you’ll recognise gum irritation during the whitening process if your gums develop white spots or parts of your gum turn white. You might notice your gums might become inflamed, as well.

What you can do to soothe your gums

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?

1. Stop the treatment: Remove the tray or whitening product. Don’t wait until the burning gets worse.

2. 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. If needed, you can continue with your saltwater rinses to help relieve discomfort during recovery. Likewise, 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 dental professional. By looking at the injury, they can tell your if home care will be enough or if other options will be more suitable to relieve your burned gums.

How to prevent burned gums from teeth whitening

Teeth whitening is generally safe, as long as you take a few precautions. Remember to:

  • Read: Review all product directions carefully – then follow them exactly as written.
  • Wipe: If the whitening agent comes anywhere near your gums, wipe it off immediately with a soft, damp swab. This typically happens when using a one-size-fits-all, ill-fitting gel tray or applying too much gel.
  • Pay attention: This is important – you should keep the whitening agent on no longer than the manufacturer recommends. Rinse it off if at any time you feel discomfort.
  • Heal: Give your gums a break. If you’ve had to cut short your teeth whitening process because of gum irritation, let your gums fully recover. Then, after a few days, start the process again.

Although over-the-counter whitening products have their place, you may want to consider professional teeth whitening. In a dental office, you’re in a controlled setting with dental professionals taking every precaution to protect your teeth and gums. Plus, they can monitor any irritation that may occur.

If professional teeth whitening doesn't suit you, ask your dental professional for a custom-fitted gel tray to use at home. While you’re with your dental professional, ask him or her to demonstrate how to apply whitening gel into the tray properly.

Most of us would like a sparkling, white smile. But in achieving that smile, you don’t want your gums to turn white (or red) from bleaching agents. So make sure you notice when your gums are becoming irritated or burned. Providing you take steps to protect your sensitive gingival tissue, you can spend more time enjoying your brighter, whiter smile!

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.