Does Teeth Whitening Hurt?

Huffman Family Dentistry

Teeth whitening is one of the most sought-after aesthetic procedures at dentists’ offices nationwide. In fact, it’s so popular that the makers of some kinds of toothpaste even have their own at-home teeth whitening kits you can use at your leisure. The process is relatively straightforward: you put whitening strips on your teeth as instructed, then they take them off after the designated amount of time. If you’re getting whitening done at the dentist’s office, all the work is done for you.
While the teeth whitening process is simple, this doesn’t mean it’s fully without risk. It’s even possible for teeth whitening to hurt, especially if you have sensitive teeth. Such risks tend to be more common in at-home kits, which is why getting your teeth whitened at the dentist’s office is much more desirable.
Why does whitening cause pain?
Pain from teeth whitening isn’t related to the strips themselves, but rather the ingredients in the formula being applied to your teeth. The biggest culprit is hydrogen peroxide, a known whitening agent used in both professional and home teeth whitening kits.
When used in higher concentrations, hydrogen peroxide can provide the most dramatic whitening results. However, the higher the percentage of hydrogen peroxide in a whitening kit, the more you’re at risk for post-treatment pain. Pain can also be the result of leaving on the product for too long.
Can I still whiten my teeth?
The simple answer is yes. However, you may need to find teeth whitening solutions that don’t contain hydrogen peroxide, or at the very least, a lower concentration. You may also cut the number of treatments in half while your teeth get used to the whitening solution.
Better yet, you can get professional teeth whitening treatments from your dentist. They will work with your sensitive teeth to help minimize pain and other side effects.
What else can I do for teeth sensitivity?
Aside from choosing your teeth whitening products wisely, you can take other steps to minimize symptoms of tooth sensitivity. Use a toothpaste designed specifically for sensitive teeth to help reduce irritation—as a bonus, you can select a whitening toothpaste so that you’re getting rid of daily surface stains without having to use whitening strips as often. Avoiding hot or cold drinks can also help reduce everyday tooth pain, especially if you’ve just whitened your teeth.
Talk to your dentist about other ways you can minimize pain from teeth whitening. They may also recommend whitening at their office for the best results.

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