Teeth Whitening for Sensitive Teeth: What are My Options?

Nov 13, 2023

Teeth Whitening for Sensitive Teeth: What are My Options?

Let’s face it: Tooth whitening is an intense process for your teeth. Whether at home or in the office, any tooth whitening product you choose contains some amount of potent bleaching agent.

It’s no wonder, then, that many folks who invest in tooth whitening wind up with sensitivity. But don’t be deterred. 

There’s a way to sidestep the sting of sensitivity if you team up with our experts at Lifetime Dental Care in Woodbridge, Virginia. We have years of experience working with whitening products and can adjust your treatments to fit your needs. 

The link between whitening products and tooth sensitivity

The active ingredients in tooth whitening products are usually hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. The strength of these substances varies between at-home and professional treatments, but any amount of exposure to them can cause irritation and result in temporary or lasting tooth sensitivity. 

Here’s how. 

When peroxide comes into contact with your teeth, it penetrates through your tooth enamel and can reach the softer inner layer of dentin where the nerve is located. 

Additionally, as the whitening solution goes from active to inactive and finishes its job, the pores in your teeth are left open and exposed, which can lead to tooth dehydration.  Tooth dehydration is a common cause of tooth sensitivity, but fortunately, it usually resolves once saliva production kicks in and rehydrates your teeth. 

The amount of peroxide and the concentration level (which can be affected by misusing at-home solutions) can also play a role in tooth sensitivity post-tooth whitening. 

Where to go from here

If you’re prone to tooth sensitivity, you’re not out of luck or stuck with discolored teeth. The best place to start is in our office. We discuss your past issues with sensitivity and address underlying oral health issues like gum disease and cavities that can make you even more sensitive. 

Then, we talk about your options. 

If you have sensitive teeth, we recommend coming into the office for your whitening sessions. Only we can tailor the concentration of the whitening solution, application, and curing process to keep your teeth safe. Doing it on your own leaves too much margin for error. 

There are also special gels and desensitizers we can use to help reduce sensitivity during your treatments. In-office treatments are also the best way to guarantee results. 

If you must whiten your teeth at home, talk to us, and we can point you in the right direction for an at-home whitening designed for sensitive teeth. 

A note on veneers

Gels aren’t the only way to whiten your teeth. We offer a wide range of cosmetic dentistry services to rejuvenate your smile. Many of our patients (with or without sensitive issues) opt for veneers and bonding to recolor and even reshape their teeth. 

We thoroughly evaluate your teeth and history with sensitivity to determine the option that is best for you. 

Ready to get back in the teeth-whitening game? We’d love to talk with you. When you’re ready to schedule an appointment, call our office at 703-499-9779 or use our online booking tool.