Obviously, the objective of teeth whitening is to change the colour of your teeth — making your yellowing dental enamel white once again. You probably don't expect it to change the colour of your gums, but this can be an unfortunate byproduct of some at-home attempts. This reddening of your gums (accompanied by discomfort) is actually a chemical burn — your gingival tissues' reaction to the active ingredients of the whitening gel. But why is this happening, and what can you do about it?
Light Tingling vs. Chemical Burns
Firstly, don't suffer through the pain. Some mild irritation (generally nothing more than light tingling) is a common reaction to teeth whitening. Chemical burns are not a normal reaction. Discontinue use immediately, if only to allow your gums to heal. Extreme pain and any bleeding that occurs after whitening indicate that the problem is more than superficial, and you may require medical care.
You might be a victim of your own enthusiasm. In your efforts to achieve fast, noticeable results, you may have applied an excessive amount of the whitening gel and could have left it in your mouth for longer than recommended. The applicator trays contained in your at-home kit can also be responsible. They're manufactured using the one-size-fits-all philosophy, without taking the configuration of an individual's bite into consideration. Ill-fitting trays can encourage the whitening gel to seep out (and onto your gums).
Moving Forward With Whitening
Moving forward, there are several possibilities to consider. You may wish to more closely follow the manufacturer's instructions, following their guidance in relation to how much of the product to use, and how long to leave it in your mouth. You can also change to a product with a lower concentration of the active whitening ingredient (hydrogen peroxide). You should also ask your dentist to make you custom applicator trays that accurately match the contours of your mouth.
Some Dental Assistance
However, if you're consulting your dentist, you may wish to have them safely perform your whitening. This can offer immediate results (unlike the slowly progressive results of an at-home kit). Any chemical sensitivities can also be promptly dealt with by your dentist. You can then use your custom applicator trays and a lower concentration whitening gel at home, allowing you to maintain your results without risking chemical burns.
Remember that some light tingling is quite standard with teeth whitening. Painful chemical burns are not, and so if this should affect you, you and your dentist need to formulate a plan of action that allows you to safely whiten your teeth.
Call your dentist if you need help with teeth whitening.