Safest Teeth Whiteners
The safest ways to whiten your teeth explained
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Many people find that their teeth are more sensitive after teeth whitening treatment. This sensitivity is often temporary, only lasting a few days. In some cases, it may persist for longer.
Both at-home and in-office tooth-whitening treatments commonly contain hydrogen peroxide. As a bleaching agent, hydrogen peroxide works by breaking down stain-causing chemicals in or on your teeth.
Hydrogen peroxide may make your teeth more sensitive by penetrating your enamel and dentin, reaching all the way to the pulp within your teeth.1 This pulp contains many sensitive nerve endings.
Whitening toothpaste may remove tooth stains by abrasion. Excessively abrasive products may wear away enamel, resulting in more sensitivity.
Learn about the safest ways to whiten your teeth.
Your teeth have a hard outer layer of enamel that protects the more sensitive dentin and pulp within. A receding gum line can expose the roots of your teeth, which are also sensitive.2
Over time, enamel wears down and can’t be restored.
The following can contribute to enamel deterioration:
In the long term, enamel wear is inevitable. For some people, even a lifetime of normal oral hygiene may be enough to make their teeth more sensitive over time.2
You can mitigate or prevent post-whitening sensitivity by being mindful of the treatment you use and what you do before and after using it.
Here are five ways to make whitening easier on your teeth:
Many whitening treatments use hydrogen peroxide to bleach your teeth. This includes products that use carbamide peroxide, which releases free hydrogen peroxide when it dissolves in water.3
If you’re prone to sensitivity, you may want to look for products that contain lower peroxide levels.
Be careful not to use peroxide-containing whitening treatments too often. Frequent use may contribute to increased sensitivity.4
When applying at-home treatments, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t leave whitening products on your teeth longer than necessary.
Peroxide-free whitening products are designed to reduce and prevent tooth sensitivity.
Hismile, an Australian teeth-whitening brand, offers a teeth whitening kit that uses PAP, an alternative to hydrogen peroxide. It also contains ingredients, including hydroxyapatite (HAp), that are meant to desensitize and remineralize teeth.
Hydroxyapatite is a naturally occurring mineral that makes up the majority of your tooth enamel.5 Whitening products that contain hydroxyapatite can reduce sensitivity during and after whitening.6, 7
Many oral care products are specifically designed to reduce tooth sensitivity.
Toothpastes, mouthwashes, and gels for sensitive teeth often contain ingredients like HAp, strontium, or arginine. These help seal exposed dentin and support enamel remineralization.5, 8
These products may also contain potassium salts (citrate, nitrate, chloride, oxalate), which calm the nerves in teeth.9
Toothpastes meant for sensitive teeth tend to lack highly abrasive ingredients that may be present in other toothpastes.10 Lastly, using a soft-bristled toothbrush also reduces tooth sensitivity because they are gentle on enamel.10
For the first few days after using a whitening treatment, avoid foods and drinks that are likely to irritate your teeth. For example, cut back on or eliminate:10, 11
Limit consuming highly acidic drinks leading up to your whitening treatment, as they may make your teeth more sensitive.
As your tooth sensitivity returns to normal, you can begin to reintroduce hot, cold, and other potentially irritating foods.
If you’re concerned about the possible adverse effects of tooth whitening, talk to your dentist. They can answer any questions and educate you on professional in-office whitening options.
One benefit of in-office whitening treatments is that a dental professional can supervise the process. This can prevent you from misusing the treatment or applying it for too long.3
If you choose to use an at-home whitening treatment, still discuss it with your dentist. They know your dental history and will be able to help you make the right choice.
See NewMouth’s top 10 teeth whitening products of 2022.
Even if your teeth remain sensitive for more than a few days after whitening, you may not have anything to worry about. Post-whitening sensitivity has been reported to last as long as 39 days.12
Sensitive teeth are common and don’t usually warrant serious concern. But they can affect quality of life in some cases.5 You should contact your dentist if you:
Increased tooth sensitivity after at-home or in-office whitening treatment is common and generally temporary.
Many people experience sensitivity after using whitening treatments that contain hydrogen peroxide. Fortunately, there are alternatives, such as the PAP in Hismile’s teeth whitening kit.
Various ingredients in whitening products and other oral care products can support teeth desensitization and remineralization.
Take it easy on your teeth while they’re sensitive by avoiding especially hot, cold, or acidic foods.
Post-whitening tooth sensitivity often subsides after a few days. But if you have concerns about a whitening treatment, or tooth sensitivity is affecting your daily life, contact your dentist.
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