At-home or professional teeth whitening are excellent solutions to lighten your stained teeth and give you a brighter smile, but, some of these treatments can leave you with temporary tooth sensitivity or pain. If you already have sensitive teeth, the pain and sensitivity you would experience after your teeth whitening may be worse, but, there are a few teeth whitening options for sensitive teeth.
Why whitening products make tooth sensitivity worse
All whitening products contain either hydrogen or carbamide peroxide, but the amount of these whitening constituents varies between professional and at-home whitening options. Irrespective of the amount of the hydrogen or carbamide peroxide, some people would experience either temporary or permanent sensitivity because these compounds penetrate the tooth enamel to the soft part of the teeth called dentin, where the nerves are located or into the gums.
You can also experience sensitivity after your teeth whitening if your whitening trays do not fit perfectly or when you do not use the teeth whitening products as your dentist prescribes.
Talk to a dentist before you whiten your sensitive teeth
If you have any oral problem that causes tooth sensitivity like cavities or gum disease, talk to your dentist before any whitening treatment. Your dentist can easily handle most dental problems, so you likely want to prevent the tooth sensitivity before you start your treatment.
It is better to ask your dentist for whitening options suitable for sensitive teeth. But if your dentist suggests waiting for a while to treat other dental issues before you proceed to whiten your teeth, follow your dentist’s instructions to prevent further problems or make your sensitivity worse.
These options may be suitable for people who have sensitive teeth but want to straighten their teeth.
Professional whitening treatment
Dentists and other dental professionals carry out professional teeth whitening, and this may be the best option for people with sensitive teeth. Whitening your teeth professionally may be the most expensive option, but your dentist gets to monitor the process and ensure that you are safe. Your dentist will use gels and desensitisers to reduce your tooth sensitivity while you whiten your teeth.
Whitening your teeth at a dental office also helps in removing stains, and it produces a long-lasting result. If you feel in-office teeth whitening may be expensive for you, you can purchase a professional whitening kit from your dentist for use at home as this treatment option costs less and is relatively safe.
How professional teeth whitening works
First, your dentist will insert a teeth retractor into your mouth to make the teeth people see when you smile more visible for treatment, then apply a resin or rubber material on your gum. The material prevents the peroxide from irritating your gums, which reduces the sensitivity you may experience after treatment. Next, your dentist will apply a bleaching gel on your teeth, and you will leave it on your teeth for 15 – 20 minutes. Within an hour, you will have white teeth and a brighter smile.
If you decide to get a professional whitening kit from your dentist, your dentist will take impressions of your teeth with a putty-like substance and send them to the lab to make your whitening trays. When the trays are ready, your dentist will send them to you with instructions on how to use them. Usually, whitening the teeth with whitening trays last for two weeks and you would wear the trays for about an hour every day during your treatment.
With any treatment option you choose, ensure that you follow your dentist’s maintenance instruction to get the best result.
Porcelain or composite-resin veneers
If whitening is not an option due to the sensitivity of your teeth and your teeth are severely stained, you can opt for veneers. Fitting porcelain veneers may require you to have healthy tooth enamel, but, composite veneers do not. Using composite veneers may be a better option for people with sensitive teeth due to decreased enamel.
How veneers work
Your dentist will attach custom-made porcelain veneer shells on each tooth. Porcelain veneers are stain-resistant, strong, and your dentist can make them match the size and shape of your teeth.
For composite veneers, which are tooth-coloured materials, your dentist will bond them to each tooth. Composite veneers do not last as long as porcelain veneers, but if they get damaged, your dentist can quickly repair them, and it costs less. Before you choose a veneer, talk to your dentist to know the suitable option for you.
At-home teeth whitening options
Using at-home teeth whitening options is the most cost-effective way of whitening your teeth as many of these at-home teeth whitening products can irritate sensitive teeth and gums, especially when you do not follow the instructions for use.
Before you use any whitening toothpaste, strip, gel, rinse or over-the-counter whitening trays, read the labels to know the warnings about sensitivity. Look out for whitening products specifically for sensitive teeth.
How at-home whitening kits work
At-home whitening products are different, so before you use any of them, read and follow their instructions. Some whitening kits may cause more discomfort than others, so ensure you choose a product that suits you.
Whitening trays and strips may cause you more irritation if your sensitivity is due to gum-related issues, but if you have a cracked or worn out teeth, all whitening products may irritate your teeth. If any product causes you discomfort and irritation, discontinue its use immediately and talk to your dentist for other recommendations.
Maintain your whitened teeth
After you whiten your teeth, ensure you follow these steps to prolong the effect of your treatment.
- Brush and rinse your mouth after you eat, mostly when you eat stain-causing food like tomato-based products
- Avoid smoking cigarettes and other tobacco products
- Use a straw while taking drinks` with colour to prevent your teeth from getting stained
Some foods like apples, celery, yoghurt, and cheese can help you whiten your teeth, so take them more often.
You can always whiten your teeth even if you have sensitive teeth, with any of the tooth whitening options available. Visit the website to book an appointment for whitening your teeth to avoid sensitivity.