How to cope with teeth sensitivity after whitening (10 Tips for dealing with the pain)Jan 18, 2023
Back at the beginning of my divorce process, I was feeling pretty low. In a bid to make myself better and do some good old self-care, I decided to get my pearly whites (not so white at the time) sorted by a dental professional in the hope that a brighter smile would lift my mood.
By 'sorted' I mean I did a 'lite' course of Invisalign to straighten my teeth, which was followed by a course of professional teeth whitening.
But I never finished my teeth off, which was to fix several chipped teeth.
A year on, and in New Year's fashion, I was in my dentist's office last week for an appointment and decided to finish what I started and get my chipped teeth fix.
I am topping up the professional whitening treatments I did last year so that I have a white smile ready for when my dentist does the finishing touches to my teeth next month.
So, when I say "How to cope with teeth sensitivity after whitening", I'm living it right now.
The sharp tooth pain and sensitivity of your teeth during the whitening process is NO JOKE!!
While teeth whitening is much kinder to your gnashers these days, the common side effect is that it does affect the tooth enamel while your doing the treatment, making teeth more sensitive to hot and cold beverages, not to mention the biting North East wind that we're currently experiencing!
The good news is, there are some strategies you can use to help deal with the pain...
10 tips to deal with teeth sensitivity after whitening
1. Choose your whitening product carefully
When you go through the whitening process you will need to decide what product to use. I used the one recommended at my dental office, which comes in different hydrogen peroxide concentration levels: 6%, 10% and 16%.
If you already have sensitive teeth, a bleaching agent content of around 6-10% will probably be all you'll be able to stand.
If you have less sensitivity, your active ingredient content could be higher. You might think you should go all in, hard and fast, but it won't be worth it if the pain signals are telling you to hate your face for the 2 weeks of your treatment.
I used 2 treatments at 16% last time but I'm currently using 10% and I am still struggling with painful sensitivity!
2. Decide what type of treatment you want
I chose to use one of my dentist's take-home kits that you use overnight while you are sleeping.
You can also do in-office and professional treatments, which will affect the sensitivity of your teeth. Speak to your dentist about the different options available, costs and how sensitive it will make your teeth!
3. Decide how long to do the treatment
You should always seek advice on how long it is safe to do the treatment and stick to this advice. Teeth whitening can still be harmful to teeth, and it would be a real shame to wreck that beautiful smile.
4. Avoid cold foods and cold drinks
If you have sensitivity issues, you already know that extreme temperatures mess with your teeth. Since the nerve endings on your teeth are more exposed during teeth whitening, cold foods, drinks and even cold AIR is going to make your teeth hurt.
Stick to lukewarm water. I've been boiling the kettle and topping up my glass of water to bring it up to warm! And don't even think about ice cream. It's hurting my face just thinking about you eating some.
5. Avoid hot food and drink
As with the above, anything too hot will also set your teeth on edge, so let that scolding brew cool a little. Or if you're impatient like me and can't wait for your hot drinks, the best way is to put some extra cold water in it!
6. Avoid acidic foods
While we're at it, you might want to skip biting into lemons or other acidic foods that can almost certainly cause sharp pain while you have thin enamel.
7. Use your whitening tray during the day
Last week when I started my whitening treatment and using my whitening tray (made immediately after finishing straightening my teeth), I noticed that my whitening tray was feeling snug so my teeth must have moved a little since having them straightened.
My dentist recommended I wear my whitening tray during the day (aiming for 22 hours a day!) in the hope it would realign my teeth.
BUT the bonus of doing this is my teeth now feel a lot less sensitive because they're being protected by the whitening tray. Genius!
8. Use sensitive toothpaste with a soft-bristled brush
Using sensitive teeth toothpaste during your whitening course with a soft-bristled toothbrush just gives your teeth a bit of a break.
9. Flouride treatments and potassium nitrate
This is something I haven't done myself but I have heard good things (for example this study) about using a fluoride treatment or potassium nitrate to protect the teeth before a whitening treatment and also after.
10. Take painkillers!
Sounds obvious but if you are in pain it is OK to take pain medication!
I found that the most painful day was about 3 days into the treatment, and then it started to subside again to manageable (as long as I was careful and stuck to the advice above!).
So, don't lose hope, use painkillers if you need them, you can always take a small break and do every other night. It's not going to be forever and then your pearly whites will be something even Simon Cowell will be coveting (that is a joke and a reminded to not take it too far, Ha!).