Winning Smile Comes At a Price

Whitening may cause tooth sensitivity

TUESDAY, Aug. 27, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Here's something that may dull some people's use of tooth whiteners.

One in two people experience temporary tooth sensitivity when they use home tooth-whitening treatments and people with receding gums are most likely to be affected, says a study in the Journal of the American Dental Association.

The four-week study included 100 people at the Naval Medical Center in San Diego. Half of them received a 15 percent carbamide peroxide tooth whitening gel, while the other half received a placebo.

The people filled a customized mouth tray with gel, and wore it for three to four hours a day for four weeks. The researchers did weekly interviews with each person to evaluate tooth sensitivity.

After one week, 54 percent of the people using the carbamide peroxide reported mild sensitivity, 8 percent reported moderate sensitivity and 4 reported severe sensitivity.

Interestingly, 54 percent of the people using the placebo also complained of mild tooth sensitivity after one week.

By the end of the study, 8 percent of the people using the carbamide peroxide reported mild tooth sensitivity. All others reported no sensitivity.

"The good news is tooth sensitivity tends to decrease as whitening treatment progresses, and is not likely to prevent patients from successfully completing the first course of home-whitening treatment," says researcher Michael Jorgensen, an associate professor of clinical dentistry at the University of Southern California School of Dentistry in Los Angeles.

The American Dental Association recommends people consult with their dentists to determine the most appropriate whitening treatment -- especially people with many fillings, crowns and dark stains.

More Information

The National Institute on Aging has more about taking care of your teeth.

SOURCE: American Dental Association, news release, August 2002
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