What to Know About Tooth Sensitivity and Teeth Whitening

What to Know About Tooth Sensitivity and Teeth Whitening

If you are one out of eight adults that suffer from sensitive teeth, you understand the twinges of pain and discomfort associated with this condition. But did you know there is a link between sensitive teeth and the quest for whiter teeth? Some individuals experience sensitive teeth during or after a teeth whitening session. Read on to learn more about tooth sensitivity, teeth whitening, and how you can avoid the sensation.

Why Teeth Become Sensitive

Teeth can feel sensitive for several different reasons, but worn tooth enamel is a major reason many people feel sensations like tingling or jolts of pain. Enamel is the protective outer layer of a tooth. Thinning enamel generates painful sensations as certain foods contact nerves within the dentin of a tooth. Hot, cold, and sugary foods are common triggers.

Individuals may inadvertently harm tooth enamel if they brush too hard, use a hard-bristled toothbrush or grind their teeth together. However, missing enamel is not the only reason sufferers have tooth sensitivity. Other conditions like receding gums, missing or worn crowns, broken teeth, and tooth decay can make teeth feel extra sensitive.

Additionally, acid reflux can corrode tooth enamel enough to cause tooth sensitivity. Sufferers of bulimia experience worn enamel when repeated vomiting introduces stomach acid to delicate tooth enamel.

How Teeth Whitening Contributes to Teeth Sensitivity

The importance of whiter, brighter teeth has led to a recent surge in teeth whitening, which is now the most popular cosmetic procedure. Individuals that seek a whiter smile need only look as far as their dentist, whitening professional, or a simple at-home whitening kit. Unfortunately, one side effect of teeth whitening for some people can be tooth sensitivity.

Various methods to whiten teeth deliver results with a common active ingredient — concentrated peroxide. The peroxide percentage refers to how concentrated the whitening product is. Whether a gel, paste, or liquid nestled in trays or in paper strip form, whitening products rely on these solutions to bleach teeth to a lighter shade of white.

Bleaching agents like peroxide can cause teeth sensitivity in some people. Peroxide has a tendency to wear away enamel in certain individuals. Users may experience temporary sensitivity after a session, especially if:

  • Their tooth enamel is already worn
  • They frequently suffer from sensitive teeth already
  • They whiten their teeth too frequently
  • They leave whitening product on their teeth beyond the recommended time

Some people experience sensitivity for a very short time, usually until the end of a session. Those that experience tooth sensitivity for longer periods may have an underlying condition like cracked teeth or receding gums. In these cases, sensitivity is exacerbated by certain teeth whitening products.

How Sensitivity Can Be Avoided

Fortunately, a brighter outcome is possible for those that seek a whiter smile without teeth sensitivity.  Individuals with normal, healthy teeth can experience whiter teeth after they follow at-home kit directions property and remove bleaching agent at the recommended time. Or, a visit to a professional means the experts can whiten your teeth and help prevent sensitive teeth.

Remember, teeth sensitivity is more likely in individuals with certain conditions like receding gums, cracked and broken teeth, or already very thin tooth enamel. Those that suffer from less-than perfect teeth can still have whiter teeth and avoid teeth sensitivity associated with peroxide agents. Alternative treatments are available when peroxide use is not recommended.

A dentist or other professional that offers teeth whitening services can suggest treatment for whiter teeth. Visit the caring experts at the Whitening Gals for more information about teeth whitening and how we can help you enjoy a whiter, brighter smile.

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