Have you ever noticed that our teeth seem to feel extra sensitive after we get our teeth whitened? Sure, they look great but at what cost? We know they do a great job, but what about the whitening process makes our mouths feel this way and how can we get it to stop? The remedy to this tooth sensitivity is as simple as popping a piece of chewing gum into your mouth.
Before getting into the evidence to support this theory, let’s take a quick look at what constitutes sensitive teeth. A tooth can become sensitive for a different reasons. When we get our teeth whitened, we are polishing up enamel that has gotten a little dull. As our day-to-day lives cause tooth enamel to wear, teeth become increasingly prone to pain when drinking or eating certain foods. Receding gums can also play a major role in causing your teeth to become sensitive and there are lots of reasons gums can recede. Dentin exposure can cause your teeth (and their roots) to no longer have all of the protection our gums and tooth enamel provide. It is this that causes the pain we feel.
Now that we know a little bit more about what could cause the sensitivity, let’s get back into what can help relieve it. A study was published in the British Dental Journal stating 88 patients were broken into three groups prior to receiving an in-office teeth whitening. The groups were as follows: patients without chewing gum, patients with sugar-free gum, and patients with sugar-free gum that also included Recaldent, a product that helps strengthen tooth enamel by adding calcium & phosphate to its list of ingredients. After the procedure, those patients with gum were asked to begin chewing. Surprisingly enough, those that chewed on a piece of chewing gum had significantly less pain than the group that went without.
But why? Why did the gum-chewing patients feel so much more relief than those that didn’t? Scientists aren’t exactly sure. They have theorized that perhaps the increased saliva production gave the patient some type of relief. Or perhaps, the act of chewing gum made the patient forget about the pain altogether. What they did find is that the version of chewing gum that helped to remineralize teeth did not make a difference in the experiment whatsoever. If the patient had gum, the patient felt some relief, despite its ingredients.
So make sure to pick up a pack of sugar-free gum on the way to your next teeth whitening appointment. Not only will it help prevent cavities, tooth decay and bad breath, but it will also help relieve any sensitivity the whitening procedure may cause.