Why Does Teeth Whitening Hurt?


Getting your teeth whitened can help you look better and feel more confident. However, whitening treatments use chemicals and can make your teeth sensitive.

Possibly, it will feel bad enough that you won’t want to repeat the treatment. However, there are ways to get your teeth whitened without discomfort. You can use different or gentler treatments that are unlikely to cause sensitivity.

If you are considering getting your teeth whitened, don’t worry too much about pain or discomfort. The pain will usually disappear after two days, so it is not the end of the world if your teeth become very sensitive. It is also normal not to experience any side effects.

Why Does Teeth Whitening Hurt?

The bleaching agents used in teeth whitening, though they can whiten your teeth without damaging them, can irritate your teeth. The whitening agents may come into contact with nerves in your mouth and cause discomfort or pain.

Whitening agents can also cause your teeth to become porous temporarily, which can allow bleaching agents to reach and remove deep stains. However, this can expose sensitive microtubules in your teeth.

Whitening agents can also irritate your teeth by drying them out. Since your teeth won’t be exposed to saliva for a while, they may get dry and become sensitive. Some in-office whitening treatments also use very bright light as well as chemicals, potentially hurting your teeth.

If you are using a powerful whitening treatment with strong chemicals, always make sure you have it done in-office. Don’t do anything risky to your own teeth. There is a small chance that strong chemicals can strip your enamel and damage your teeth.

There are many causes of tooth sensitivity other than whitening. A lot of the time, whitening will only make your teeth very sensitive if you have other problems with your teeth.

Treatment usually won’t hurt if you have very healthy teeth, though sometimes discomfort can come from whitening alone. Some problems that can lead to sensitive teeth are:

  • Cavities, especially near your gums
  • Gum disease
  • Unnecessarily hard and fast brushing
  • Cracked or damaged teeth

How Can You Avoid Discomfort After Whitening?

Getting your teeth whitened too often can cause pain or sensitivity. Space your treatments out, don’t get your teeth whitened more than once in a short time. Many people who would otherwise not have any side effects get very sensitive teeth if they get their teeth whitened too often.

You could use a gentler teeth whitening treatment to avoid discomfort. Whitening toothpaste is gentle; a bleaching tray is not. Gentler treatments are still effective; they only take longer to work.

If your sensitivity is mild, you can avoid discomfort by avoiding very hot or very cold beverages. Even drinking anything hot or cold through a straw might be enough to avoid discomfort. Types of toothpaste that soothe sensitive teeth can help you.

Sometimes, the sensitivity is so great that this is not enough. If the whitening treatment really does make your teeth hurt, you need to use a different treatment.

You can use a whitening gel that does not contain much peroxide, as peroxide irritates many people’s teeth. Your teeth may also be fine if you use a treatment that doesn’t take too long. Whitening strips and whitening toothpaste for people with sensitive teeth are available.

What Does Tooth Sensitivity Feel Like?

Tooth sensitivity can be anywhere from slightly uncomfortable to painful. You might experience sharp, shooting pains that hurt deep in your gums.

Sweet and sour foods can cause sudden pain, so can fruit juices and other slightly acidic beverages. Breathing in cold air can hurt you if your teeth are sensitive enough.

Sometimes, having sensitive teeth is a sign of a more serious problem. Get your teeth looked at and get any non-cosmetic dental work done first. If you need fillings, get them done before you whiten your teeth.

Jason Smith

I am a Marine who now works as a Web Developer. I have five US States left to visit. I like whiskey, wine, and coffee, soaking in hot springs or in my hot tub.

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