If you want to whiten your smile but you have sensitive teeth, you may wonder if you’re out of luck. Is teeth whitening even an option if your teeth are sensitive? Although teeth whitening treatments are known for causing painful sensitivity, there are a number of ways to protect sensitive teeth so you can brighten your smile without any discomfort. Here’s what you should know.
What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?
Your tooth enamel provides a layer of protection for the nerves inside your teeth. If the enamel is worn away or weakened, these nerves can be sensitive to a variety of stimuli. This is what causes sensitivity. Some of the most common sources of pain with sensitive teeth are hot foods and drinks, cold foods and drinks, and sweet foods, but teeth whitening treatments can also cause painful sensations.
Another cause of tooth sensitivity is gum recession. Although gum recession is most commonly associated with periodontal disease, it can also be caused by brushing with a stiff-bristled toothbrush, using too much pressure when brushing, orthodontic treatment, or bruxism (nighttime teeth grinding or jaw clenching). When the gums recede, the roots of the teeth become exposed, and these areas don’t have the same amount of enamel as the portion of the tooth above the gumline.
Getting Ready for Teeth Whitening
By taking steps to strengthen your enamel, you can minimize some of the sensitivity caused by teeth whitening. Before your teeth whitening treatment, start brushing with a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth, which will remineralize the tooth surfaces and desensitize the nerves inside your teeth. Start this a few weeks before you plan on starting your teeth whitening.
Making Teeth Whitening More Comfortable
If you’re a member of our Whitening for Life program, you’ll be able to choose between a whitening gel and custom-fitted trays or the Opalescence Go system, which has pre-filled whitening trays.
The great thing about Opalescence Go is that it’s formulated for comfort, with potassium nitrate and fluoride. Patients who have a history of sensitive teeth usually have no issues using the Opalescence Go system. If you choose custom trays and whitening gel, we can provide you with instructions that take into account your tooth sensitivity—using less gel or doing shorter whitening sessions can often eliminate any discomfort. We recommend setting a timer whenever you’re using your whitening trays, as one of the most common causes of sensitivity is when patients lose track of time and whiten for longer than needed.
Teeth Whitening Aftercare
After your teeth whitening, it’s a good idea to avoid hot or cold foods and drinks, and acidic foods for a few hours. Continue to use your sensitive toothpaste, which will help dull any nerve pain and remineralize your enamel for long-term relief.
Learn More About Teeth Whitening
Are you interested in learning about our Whitening for Life program? Wondering which whitening option is best for your sensitive teeth? Contact us today at 440-247-8641 to schedule an appointment for a consultation.