Sensitivity with teeth whitening driving you mad?

We all want white teeth but nobody wants to suffer for it. It can be demoralising and debilitating when you want a brighter smile but your bleaching product is causing sensitivity.

Once upon a time sensitivity was accepted as a by-product of the process. However, with this simple applicable advice, there are ways to whiten sensitivity free.

Follow these five tips to reduce sensitivity with teeth whitening

  1. See your dentist before you start

Your dentist will examine your teeth to highlight any areas which could lead to sensitivity. These areas include gum recession, tooth wear and exposed dentine.

Cavities will also be highlighted and your dentist will ensure these are filled and sealed prior to starting.

Your dentist will then be able to design bespoke trays and tailor your wear instructions around these areas to ensure that you have a comfortable treatment.

  1. Take it easy

Teeth whitening is a gradual process which takes a few weeks to reach maximum results. The bleach slowly removes stains in your teeth and can normally be achieved with 30 minutes daily wear using hydrogen peroxide.

But you can always change your wear patterns. If 30 minutes gives sensitivity with teeth whitening then wear for 20 minutes. If daily wear is too much then switch to every other day.

What’s another week or two to brighten those teeth?

  1. Use sensitive toothpaste

sensodyne toothpaste for sensitivity while teeth bleaching
This is your friend. Brush with it twice per day and DO NOT rinse with water afterwards.

Most sensitive toothpaste work by gradually building a protective layer on the enamel layer to stop sensitivity with teeth whitening. So, start using one 2-weeks before your first bleaching treatment.

If you find one or two teeth are particularly annoying then squeeze the toothpaste on your finger and rub it on these teeth between meals.

Another tip would be to use the sensitive toothpaste within your bleaching trays. For example, you’ve just removed the trays after a night treatment. Wash out the bleach and put sensitive toothpaste in them. Wear these for 30 minutes and it’ll calm everything down.

You could also alternate nights wearing bleach and sensitive toothpaste. The treatment time will double but it may be a more comfortable experience.



  1. Use lower concentrations

The maximum doses dentists use are 6% hydrogen peroxide or 18% carbamide peroxide. However, this isn’t to say you can’t use less.

Lower concentrations take longer to work but they also reduce sensitivity with teeth whitening.

  1. Avoid irritating food and drinks

foods that can cause sensitivity while teeth bleaching
That ‘ice cream’ sensitive feeling on your teeth can be amplified while teeth bleaching.

Very cold food and drink can cause shooting feelings while whitening. Similarly, sugary foods like sweets and chocolate can do the same.

If you find a certain food or drink irritates your teeth then avoid it. And remember this is only a temporary sensation. You will be able to eat Creme Eggs again once you’ve completed your treatment.

And in the unlikely event you’re still getting sensitivity with teeth whitening?

As a dentist, I only recommend teeth whitening products that take sensitivity seriously.

The products I use with my patients include desensitisers which, good for you, means you shouldn’t need the above pointers!

Click this link for teeth whitening in Bournemouth and Poole.


Dr Gareth Edwards Dentist AuthorDr Gareth Edwards BDS (Hons) MFDS RCPS (Glasg) qualified from dental school with honours. He has a keen interest in aesthetic dentistry and teeth whitening. Practicing in Bournemouth & Poole, he is a certified Invisalign and Six Month Smiles provider. For more information click here.


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