Updated on February 9, 2024
5 min read

Help! My Teeth are Killing Me After Whitening

NewMouth is reader supported. We may earn a commission if you purchase something using one of our links. Advertising Disclosure.

What Causes Post-Whitening Tooth Sensitivity?

At-home and in-office teeth whitening products usually contain hydrogen peroxide. As a bleaching agent, hydrogen peroxide breaks down stain-causing chemicals in or on your teeth.

Hydrogen peroxide can make your teeth more sensitive by penetrating the enamel and dentin, potentially reaching the pulp.1 Tooth pulp contains sensitive nerve endings.

Many people find their teeth are more sensitive after teeth whitening treatment. This sensitivity is often temporary, only lasting a few days. In some cases, it can persist for longer.

Some whitening toothpastes remove tooth stains through abrasion. However, strongly abrasive products can wear away enamel, resulting in more sensitivity.

Get your brightest smile with NewMouth's top teeth whitening picks for 2024.

When Should You Worry About Post-Whitening Sensitivity?

Even if your teeth remain sensitive for more than a few days after teeth 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 the quality of life in some cases.5 

Contact your dentist if you:

  • Experience post-whitening sensitivity that persists for weeks
  • Feel like your teeth are so sensitive that they affect your normal daily activities 
  • Are concerned you may have misused a whitening product

6 Ways Prevent Tooth Sensitivity After Teeth Whitening

You can mitigate or prevent post-whitening sensitivity by being mindful of the whitening process. This means being careful of what you do before and after every treatment session. 

Here are six ways to make whitening easier on your teeth:

1. Be Careful With Peroxide (Bleaching) Products

Many whitening treatments use hydrogen peroxide to bleach your teeth. This includes over-the-counter 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 a whitening solution with lower carbamide peroxide levels.

Be careful not to use peroxide-containing whitening treatments too often. Frequent use can increase sensitivity.4

When applying at-home treatments, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t leave whitening products on your teeth longer than necessary.

2. Use Peroxide-Free Products

Peroxide-free whitening products are designed to reduce and prevent tooth sensitivity.

Hismile, an Australian oral care brand, offers a whitening kit with PAP, an alternative to hydrogen peroxide. It also contains hydroxyapatite (HAp) and other ingredients to desensitize and remineralize teeth.

Hydroxyapatite is a naturally occurring mineral that makes up most of your tooth enamel.5 Whitening products that contain hydroxyapatite can reduce sensitivity during and after whitening.6, 7

3. Use Teeth Whitening Products Appropriately 

Use the product properly to minimize any sensitivity after a teeth whitening procedure. Bleaching gels, whitening strips, and other products can do more harm than good when used improperly.

As such, always use the products according to their instructions. You should also talk to your dentist first before starting any whitening process. 

4. Try Products for Sensitive Teeth

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 products.10 Lastly, soft-bristled toothbrushes reduce tooth sensitivity because they are gentle on enamel.10

Laughland teeth whitening offers personalized at-home custom teeth whitening. They have different formulas based on your lifestyle and sensitivity levels.

5. Avoid Irritating Foods

Avoid foods and drinks that irritate your teeth for the first few days after a whitening session. 

For example, cut back on or eliminate:10, 11

  • Anything too hot or cold
  • Acidic foods and drinks, such as tea, coffee, wine, soda, and citrus fruits
  • Sugary foods and drinks that can feed acid-producing bacteria
  • Foods that stain your teeth, like red sauce, blueberries, and blackberries
  • Tobacco products

Limit your intake of highly acidic foods and drinks leading up to the whitening treatment. These can make your teeth more sensitive.

You can begin to reintroduce hot, cold, and more acidic foods as the sensitivity goes away.

6. Talk to Your Dentist

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 professional teeth 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 an at-home whitening treatment, still discuss it with your dentist. They know your dental history and can help you make the right choice.

Why are Some People More Prone to Tooth Sensitivity?

Your teeth have a hard outer layer (enamel) that protects the more sensitive dentin and pulp. Over time, enamel wears down and can’t be restored.

A receding gum line can expose the roots of your teeth, which are also sensitive.2  

The following can contribute to enamel deterioration:

  • Consuming acidic foods and drinks
  • Brushing your teeth too aggressively
  • Bruxism (teeth grinding)
  • Medical issues that cause vomiting, like bulimia

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


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 and other oral care products can support teeth desensitization and remineralization. Take it easy 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 affecting your daily life, contact your dentist.

Last updated on February 9, 2024
12 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 9, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Thitinanthapan, W et al. “In vitro penetration of the pulp chamber by three brands of carbamide peroxide.Journal of esthetic dentistry vol. 11,5 : 259-64. doi:10.1111/j.1708-8240.1999.tb00407.x
  2. Markowitz, Kenneth. “A new treatment alternative for sensitive teeth: A desensitizing oral rinse.Journal of Dentistry vol. 41,1 : S1-S11. doi:10.1016/j.dent.2012.09.007
  3. Carey, Clifton M. “Tooth whitening: what we now know.The journal of evidence-based dental practice vol. 14 Suppl : 70-6. doi:10.1016/j.jebdp.2014.02.006
  4. de Freitas, Maiara R. et al. “Effectiveness and Adverse Effects of Over-the-Counter Whitening Products on Dental Tissues.Front. Dent. Med vol. 2 . https://doi.org/10.3389/fdmed.2021.687507
  5. Epple, Matthias et al. “A Critical Review of Modern Concepts for Teeth Whitening.” Dentistry journal vol. 7,3 79. 1 Aug. 2019, doi:10.3390/dj7030079
  6. Browning, William D et al. “Effect of a nano-hydroxyapatite paste on bleaching-related tooth sensitivity.Journal of esthetic and restorative dentistry : official publication of the American Academy of Esthetic Dentistry … [et al.] vol. 24,4 : 268-76. doi:10.1111/j.1708-8240.2011.00437.x
  7. Vano, M et al. “Tooth bleaching with hydrogen peroxide and nano-hydroxyapatite: a 9-month follow-up randomized clinical trial.International journal of dental hygiene vol. 13,4 : 301-7. doi:10.1111/idh.12123
  8. Clark, Danielle and Liran Levin. “Non-surgical management of tooth hypersensitivity.International Dental Journal, vol.66,5 , 249-256. doi:10.1111/idj.12247
  9. Orchardson, R, and D G Gillam. “The efficacy of potassium salts as agents for treating dentin hypersensitivity.Journal of orofacial pain vol. 14,1 : 9-19.
  10. Miglani, Sanjay et al. “Dentin hypersensitivity: Recent trends in management.Journal of conservative dentistry : JCD vol. 13,4 : 218-24. doi:10.4103/0972-0707.73385
  11. Davari, AR et al. “Dentin hypersensitivity: etiology, diagnosis and treatment; a literature review.Journal of dentistry (Shiraz, Iran) vol. 14,3 : 136-45.
  12. Dahl, J. E., and U. Pallesen. “Tooth Bleaching—a Critical Review of the Biological Aspects.Critical Reviews in Oral Biology & Medicine vol. 14, no. 4, July 2003, pp. 292–304, doi:10.1177/154411130301400406.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram