Kennedy Dentistry in Powell, TN

How to Handle Teeth Whitening Sensitivity

There are very few downsides to whitening your teeth, one of our most popular cosmetic services. One is teeth whitening sensitivity. Our products have a higher concentration of bleaching ingredients like hydrogen peroxide. So they can sometimes cause teeth to feel sensitive.

Fortunately, this effect is short lived. And there are steps you can take to minimize it, which we’re sharing with you here. If you’re interested in professional teeth whitening, we’re happy to answer any questions you have. Give us a call at 865-947-2220.

Why Does Whitening Give Me Sensitive Teeth?

If whitening causes your teeth to tingle or become sensitive to temperature extremes, chances are it’s because you have a sensitivity to hydrogen peroxide. Professional products have a higher concentration of this ingredient than products you buy in drugstores. So they can cause these sensations. Fortunately, it’s usually a temporary reaction.

6 Tips to Minimize Teeth Whitening Sensitivity

At our office you can choose an in-office whitening treatment or home whitening. Either way, we’ll first examine your teeth to ensure you don’t have any cavities, minor cracks, or other issues that can cause extreme sensitivity or even pain. Ensuring your teeth are in good shape is the first step in avoiding teeth whitening sensitivity.

In addition, you can take these steps:

  • Stick to Suggested Usage – It may be tempting to apply the whitening gel more often than recommended or extend the time it stays on your teeth. However, to avoid teeth whitening sensitivity, you need to follow directions.
  • Give Your Teeth a Break – If you do notice sensitivity, try giving yourself a day off between treatments.
  • Stay Away From Temperature Extremes – It’s best to stick to room temperature food and drink as much as possible while you are whitening.
  • Brush With Care – Overly vigorous brushing can make teeth sensitive any time, but especially if you’re whitening. Stick to gentle brushing with a soft-bristled brush. You can also use a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth.
  • Use an OTC Pain Reliever – Before gel is applied, you can take an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. This can be enough to avoid teeth whitening sensitivity.
  • Consider Fluoride Treatments – Fluoride strengthens your tooth enamel. This not only makes it more resistant to decay, it can also make your teeth less sensitive.

6 Other Reasons for Dental Sensitivity

Of course, there are other reasons for dental sensitivity – ones that may signal a problem that requires attention. Call us ASAP if your sensitivity lasts for more than a few days or worsens. Our dentists will check for these issues:

  • Dental Damage – As mentioned, a cavity or a small crack can make your teeth feel sensitive. This can happen whether or not you are whitening. If not repaired, dental damage can become downright painful.
  • Teeth Grinding – You may grind your teeth and/or clench your jaw in your sleep, habits that are often related to stress. In addition to dental sensitivity, this can cause headaches and jaw pain. It can also damage your enamel to the point you may need restorative care. We can fit you for a custom-made mouthguard that will stop these behaviors.
  • Receding Gums – Gum recession can cause sensitivity, especially if gums recede to the point where tooth roots are uncovered. Gum disease treatment can help if disease is the cause of your recession.
  • Thin Enamel – If enamel weakens, your teeth become more sensitive. We may suggest applications of fluoride to strengthen your enamel. We may also recommend lifestyle changes, such as avoiding colas and other beverages with a high acid content.

Your teeth may also feel sensitive if you have a sinus infection. Inflamed sinuses can compress your teeth’s nerve endings, causing sensitivity. You may also experience temporary sensitivity if you’ve recently had a filling placed or other dental work that required drilling.

Whether your sensitivity is caused by teeth whitening or something else, we can help! Call us at 865-947-2220 for an appointment.