Dental Tips Blog


Teeth Whitening and Managing Sensitivity

Posted in Teeth Whitening

Teeth whitening is a very popular cosmetic dentistry procedure.  It is inexpensive, produces noticeable results quickly, and has been used safely by millions of people with few adverse side effects.  However, some people experience increased sensitivity after whitening.  If you have ever experienced tooth sensitivity after whitening, you know how uncomfortable it can be.

Fortunately, you don’t have to give up on having a beautiful pearly white smile just because of increased sensitivity.  Not all teeth whitening patients experience increased sensitivity after a tooth whitening treatment.  For patients that do, it usually starts shortly after the whitening treatment and only lasts a day or two at most.

Taking an NSAID like Advil may help keep the discomfort to a minimum. If you have increased sensitivity for more than a few days after your tooth whitening treatment, see your dentist.  This may be a sign of a more serious problem.

To reduce sensitivity, many dentists recommend using a strong fluoride toothpaste for a few days or even weeks prior to the whitening treatment.  If you have experienced sensitivity in the past, your dentist may prescribe a prescription strength fluoride toothpaste to use prior to your treatment.  You can also try a desensitizing toothpaste that is available over the counter.  These toothpastes work best if you let the toothpaste remain on your teeth instead of rinsing thoroughly immediately after brushing.

For some patients, spreading the whitening treatment over a few visits can also help with sensitivity issues.  You can get great results with reduced sensitivity by using a less powerful whitening agent and leaving it on the teeth for shorter period of time, but you will need more whitening treatments.

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