Is Teeth Whitening Safe for Sensitive Teeth?

  • Aug 20 2022

Taking care of your teeth requires paying attention to three key areas — aesthetics, comfort, and oral health. Ideally, you’ll want to engage in practices and seek treatments that can benefit all three. Whitening can give you a brighter smile, but how does it affect your comfort and oral health? 

Here’s what patients with sensitive teeth should know about their whitening options.

What causes sensitive teeth?

Having sensitive teeth is a relatively common issue. You can find yourself experiencing discomfort or pain when eating foods or drinking beverages that are:

  • Hot
  • Cold
  • Sweet
  • Acidic

You might also experience sensitivity when brushing or flossing, which can put people off of proper oral hygiene and make the issue worse.

Your teeth can become more sensitive with thinner enamel. This hard outer layer protects the sensitive inner layers of the tooth. Some common causes of thin enamel include:

  • Teeth grinding
  • Consuming acidic foods or beverages
  • Harsh brushing 
  • Tooth decay

Cavities can develop when missing enamel creates a spot with increased sensitivity. Enamel can also wear down across the entire tooth, leading to sustained sensitivity.

Will whitening make my teeth more sensitive?

Teeth whitening removes stains that have penetrated the surface of your teeth. Most whitening solutions rely on peroxide, a form of bleach, to do so. This leaves many patients concerned that contact with this strong compound could result in increased sensitivity.

Individuals with sensitive teeth can experience increased sensitivity after their whitening treatment. However, this isn’t a permanent side effect. Most patients will only notice increased sensitivity for a few days at most after treatment.

There should not be a lasting impact on sensitivity due to whitening treatments, so they’re a safe option even if you do have sensitive teeth. At most, you should avoid particularly hot, cold, or acidic foods and beverages for a few days afterward to ensure your own comfort.

Is laser bleaching safe for sensitive teeth?

Laser bleaching is a relatively new form of professional teeth whitening that can deliver excellent results. Some patients are concerned about how it might impact their sensitivity, but laser bleaching is perfectly safe for individuals with sensitive teeth.

Although it might seem like laser bleaching would be more intense than regular in-office whitening, that isn’t the case. A special light activates the bleaching agent during treatment, making it more effective. Many patients find laser whitening to be a more comfortable experience than traditional in-office whitening.

Is at-home whitening safe for sensitive teeth?

If in-office whitening doesn’t sound quite right for you, you can ask your dentist for take-home bleaching kits. These kits include trays customized to fit your teeth and a whitening agent. 

The whitening agent is applied to the trays, which are then worn for 30 minutes each day for a week or two. You will then have noticeably whiter teeth when you’re finished.

Like other whitening treatments, these take-home kits won’t cause any lasting side effects to your teeth. You might experience a temporary increase in sensitivity, but this is also true for any over-the-counter whitening kits that don’t deliver the same results as a take-home kit.

Ask Your Dentist About Whitening Options

If you’re concerned about your tooth sensitivity, the best thing you can do is speak with a dentist. Even if you aren’t thinking about whitening treatments, a dentist can help determine what could be behind your sensitivity and provide effective treatment options.

Whether you’re looking to confront sensitivity, achieve a brighter smile, or both, you can count on Payam Cohen, D.D.S., P.C., in Queens, NY, for all of your dental needs. Just contact the office today to schedule your appointment.

Categories: Cosmetic Dentistry