Health Look: Whitening for Sensitive Teeth

Often, sensitive teeth can result from gum recession, gingivitis, or cracks. Because of these, making them whiter becomes a little more complex. That’s why talking to your dentist before you begin any whitening plan is an excellent thought. 

Your dentist is familiar with you and your dental past, so they have the most knowledge. They can collaborate with you to create the best and most pleasant way to whiten them.

Sensitive Teeth and Teeth Whitening

Many people experience tooth sensitivity, which can limit their choices. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t find the most effective teeth whitening solutions that work well for sensitive teeth. Things like carbamide, hydrogen peroxide, and baking soda in the whitening product can affect how much sensitivity there is after bleaching. 

If these whitening ingredients are in higher amounts in the product, there’s a greater chance of sensitivity.

Teeth Whitening Discomfort

Using whiteners at home could cause temporary discomfort for a few people. This might make things like eating and drinking uncomfortable, but it’s not dangerous. 

Even though some folks might feel pain after using these products, most don’t find it bad enough to quit. If your teeth become sensitive while whitening, just remember that the products are designed to help with this problem.

What Causes Teeth Sensitivity

We don’t know why sensitivity happens after treatment, but it’s mostly connected to what peroxides do to the enamel and dentin of your teeth. The products with peroxide, used in whitening treatments, clean stains and make the surface a bit weaker, making it more porous.

Gum Recession

When your gums recede, they can expose the roots, making them sensitive to hot, cold, and whitening treatments. This can happen due to gum disease, aging, hormonal changes, or tobacco use. To prevent this, brush them twice daily, floss regularly, use fluoride mouthwash, and avoid smoking habits.

Enamel Erosion

The enamel can slowly wear down, revealing the sensitive layer underneath, known as dentin. This leads to sensitivity. Consuming acidic foods, brushing too hard, and conditions like acid reflux can damage enamel.

Cracked Teeth

Sensitivity from cracks happens when tiny cracks or fractures form on the outer layer of the tooth, called enamel, and can go deeper. These cracks can expose sensitive inner parts of the tooth, like dentin and pulp, which contain nerve endings. Exposing these parts to hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and drinks can lead to discomfort or pain.

If you suspect you have a cracked tooth, seeing your dentist is essential. Detecting it early and getting the proper treatment can help prevent further issues and discomfort.

Whitening Options for Sensitive Teeth

Dentists used to advise against whitening for sensitive teeth. Yet, modern methods have changed that. Now, sensitive-toothed people can choose from different options to get a whiter smile. These include treatments at the dentist’s office or trays, strips, and solutions at home.

Laser Whitening

Laser teeth whitening is a well-known professional method using a special laser and hydrogen peroxide gel. The energy from the laser breaks down stains, making the colour of your teeth improve by seven to ten shades. Research suggests that getting them whitened with a laser at the dentist’s office is better than at home.

Custom Whitening Trays

Your dentist can create trays that are customized for your teeth. These trays are filled with a strong hydrogen peroxide gel. This method ensures that the results look even and natural. 

Custom trays are designed to fit them precisely, preventing any spillage and avoiding irritation of your gums and tongue. These trays are comfortable and easy to use. You wear them for one to two weeks, usually two to four hours daily.

Dentist-Supervised At-Home Kits/Strips

You can use teeth whitening kits or strips at home under the supervision of a dentist. These kits contain professional-grade gel for either the custom trays or ready-made strips. You wear the strips twice daily for 30 minutes to a few hours. The kits are used for six to ten hours, often at night. 

These methods are gentler because they gradually whiten them. They use lower concentrations of whitening agents and include special things like potassium nitrate or fluoride to make them less sensitive during and after the whitening process.

Can You Use Alternative Methods?

Can you brighten your teeth naturally without causing more discomfort? You’ve probably come across ideas like charcoal toothpaste, oil pulling, and baking soda. But do these methods work, and are they safe if you have sensitive teeth?

It’s essential to recognize that there isn’t strong evidence supporting the effectiveness of these approaches, especially when dealing with sensitive teeth. Some methods might harm your enamel or gums if used excessively or incorrectly. Before you give them a shot, it’s wise to consider the potential risks involved.


Tooth sensitivity can be a concern when considering whitening options. Advancements in whitening help people with sensitive teeth get a brighter smile without pain. There are practical alternatives for whitening.  

You might be tempted to try natural remedies like charcoal toothpaste, oil pulling, or baking soda. Yet, their safety and effectiveness are not supported by scientific evidence. To keep your teeth and gums safe, use these methods with caution.



About Joel Levy 2602 Articles
Editor-In-Chief at Toronto Guardian. Photographer and Writer for Toronto Guardian and Joel Levy Photography