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How do I Treat Tooth Sensitivity from Whitening?

By Amanda R. Bell
Updated May 17, 2024
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Whether receiving whitening treatments from a dentist or using an at-home whitening kit, experiencing tooth sensitivity is one of the most common side effects. The chances of your teeth becoming overly sensitive varies, although the more tooth bleaching you do the higher the likelihood of experiencing tooth pain. The good news is that there are several ways to treat tooth sensitivity. Special toothpastes, fluoride rinses, and flossing regularly can be helpful. If these options fail, you can discuss with your dentist the possibility of having a desensitizing paste applied to your teeth. Limiting whitening treatments can also be helpful.

There are several over-the-counter and prescription toothpastes that can help to reduce tooth sensitivity from whitening and also prevent teeth from becoming even more sensitive. These toothpastes typically have higher-than-normal fluoride content, which helps to strengthen teeth and reduce wearing down of the enamel. Some of them also help to numb your teeth, thus making eating very hot or cold foods more comfortable.

These toothpastes generally work best when you use them about an hour after eating. Using a soft bristled brush is also key, as is brushing gently. Scrubbing your teeth too hard can not only be painful if you're experiencing tooth sensitivity from whitening, but it can also damage the enamel of your teeth, which protects nerves from being exposed. Using lukewarm water when brushing can also help, especially if your teeth are temperature sensitive.

Flossing regularly helps to maintain healthy gums, which can go a long way in reducing tooth sensitivity from whitening. Using a fluoride rinse in addition to a toothpaste made for sensitive teeth can also help to strengthen your teeth even more. It may also help repair damage that has caused sensitivity and prevent further damage.

If these options are not providing you with any relief, a dentist can apply a desensitizing paste to your teeth. This paste numbs the roots of the teeth, significantly reducing pain. A bonding agent can also be applied to protect your teeth from further damage. These treatments takes very little time, and the results can last anywhere from several months to a few years.

If tooth sensitivity from whitening is becoming a problem for you, it's important to at least temporarily stop whitening treatments. Continuing to whiten your teeth when you're experiencing pain can potentially cause irreversible damage to one of the most important parts of your body. Many dentists recommended whitening your teeth to the desired level and then waiting at least six months before whitening again. As a general rule, your teeth should only be whitened to the level of whiteness of your eyes; expecting porcelain white results can lead to translucent or grayish looking teeth. Just like any other health procedure, you should always discuss whitening options and sensitivity treatments with your dentist.

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