Teeth Whitening for Sensitive Teeth

Gentle Dental

Teeth Whitening for Sensitive Teeth
Over-the-counter or professional whitening treatments can help you achieve a brighter smile. However, many patients suffer from temporary tooth sensitivity as a result of these treatments. If your dentist has determined you are a candidate to have your teeth whitened, you will need to decide on which whitening method is best for you. Keep reading to discover the best options for teeth whitening and ways to reduce sensitivity.

In-office Whitening Treatment
In-office teeth whitening done by a dentist is the best option for patients with sensitive teeth. In-office whitening offers excellent results and allows your dentist to monitor the process to ensure your teeth remain protected. It can also be done quickly, usually in as little as an hour. During your visit, you can expect one to three sessions of 30 to 60 minutes each. 

How Professional Teeth Whitening Works
Professional teeth whitening is safe and long-lasting, whitening your teeth from the inside out. During each session, a high concentration of carbamide or hydrogen peroxide will be painted onto your teeth and activated with a polymerization light. If you suffer from sensitivity, your dentist may use gels and desensitizers while they whiten your teeth.

Porcelain or Composite-Resin Veneers
If your teeth can not handle whitening, veneers may be the next best option. Dental veneers are thin, custom-made, tooth-colored materials that are designed to improve the appearance of your teeth. They are bonded to the front of your teeth to alter their color, shape, size, or length.

How Veneers Work
There are two types of dental veneers: porcelain and composite-resin. Both naturally match the size and shape of your teeth. While porcelain veneers require a healthy amount of tooth enamel to place, composite resin-veneers are a good option for those who suffer from sensitive teeth due to decreased enamel.

At-Home Whitening Options
Before you begin to whiten your teeth, it is important to discuss your treatment options with your dentist. If you are dealing with oral health problems that cause tooth sensitivity, at-home teeth whitening treatments may exacerbate your pain or discomfort. 

  • Professional Whitening Kit
    If you would prefer to whiten your teeth at-home, you can purchase a professional whitening kit from your dentist. These kits come with custom-fitted dental trays to keep the whitening solution on the surface of your teeth. Professional kits are relatively easy to use and offer excellent results in as little as two weeks of use. Your dentist can also prescribe products to use in conjunction with whitening that can reduce tooth sensitivity
  • Teeth Whitening Strips
    Teeth whitening strips are easy to use, inexpensive, and readily available at many drug stores across the nation. These flexible strips adhere to your teeth and can just take a few minutes a day to give you a brighter, whiter smile. While teeth whitening strips do work, they may take longer to produce the desired results.
  • Teeth Whitening Trays and Gels
    Over-the-counter teeth whitening trays are made of a flexible material that molds to your teeth. This material allows for whitening on the surface and in between your teeth. Some trays are pre-filled with a peroxide-based whitening agent while others come with syringes to dispense the gel into the tray. While at-home teeth whitening kits are not as effective as dentist-level results, they can remove surface stains and give you a brighter smile. Teeth whitening trays also require a longer daily application time which can contribute to a greater level of tooth sensitivity.
  • Teeth Whitening Toothpastes
    Teeth whitening toothpastes contain mild abrasives to remove surface stains. These abrasives are formulated to be softer than your enamel to ensure that they do not wear down your teeth. Certain whitening toothpastes also contain peroxide, which is the same compound used in professional whitening treatments. Repeated use of whitening toothpastes can keep your teeth white after you have had them professionally whitened.

How to Minimize Sensitivity From Teeth Whitening Products
During the first one to two weeks when you are using teeth whitening products, you should consider the following tips to prevent tooth sensitivity.

  • Follow instructions. If you choose to try at-home whitening options, make sure to read all of the directions that come with the products you use on your teeth.
  • Don’t leave the product on for too long. Leaving the product on your teeth for too long may exacerbate your sensitivity.
  • Use desensitizing gel and toothpaste. For most patients, teeth sensitivity occurs several hours after whitening their teeth. To avoid pain or discomfort, apply a desensitizing gel to areas of your gums that you know are particularly sensitive.
  • Rinse your mouth. After you use teeth whitening products, you should always rinse your mouth to counteract any remaining acidity on your teeth.
  • Allow more time between whitening sessions. If your teeth are more sensitive after whitening, allow for more time between treatments. Taking time between treatments gives your teeth time to recover.
  • Choose products with low levels of peroxide. A little goes a long way when it comes to teeth whitening. The higher the level of the whitening agents in the formula, the more likely teeth are to experience sensitivity. Currently, the percentages of peroxide in teeth whitening products are 10%, 16%, and 22%. 

Final Word
If you are considering teeth whitening, make sure to review the facts about teeth whitening with your dentist. He or she will be able to advise you on professional in-house whitening treatments and the most effective at-home treatments to whiten your smile. To protect your smile from future stains, remember to use a straw to protect your teeth and rinse after you eat staining foods like coffee, tea, or wine. With these teeth whitening tips and tricks in mind, you will have a bright, beautiful smile in no time.