Why Teeth Can Feel Sensitive After Whitening Strips

Curly-haired woman wearing a blue blouse touches her cheek in pain due to sensitive teeth

Our teeth are with us for most of our lives, and life can really do a number on them! Coffee, soda, other staining foods, cigarettes, certain medications, thinning enamel, and poor dental hygiene are some of the common causes of yellowing teeth. Fortunately, there are many solutions to discoloration. Here at Smithfield Dental, we offer professional teeth whitening that is safe and effective. Whitening strips are another popular whitening tool, but they may negatively affect the way your teeth feel. Read on to learn why you may be experiencing sensitivity after using whitening strips, and what you can do about it.

How Whitening Strips Work

Most whitening strips that you’ll find at your drugstore are thin plastic strips coated with a form of peroxide, usually in a relatively low percentage, around 10%. This peroxide gradually bleaches your teeth. To safely achieve a smile that is noticeably whiter and brighter, it’s vital to select a high-quality product and to follow the instructions on its packaging.

Why Your Teeth May Hurt

Some patients who use whitening strip experience pain and sensitivity after applying the strips, especially after prolonged use. Unfortunately, the peroxide that is used to lighten the teeth has been known to irritate and inflame the gums and tooth roots, and even damage your enamel, the outer protective layer of your teeth. The higher the concentration of peroxide and the longer your teeth are exposed to the whitening agent, the more likely you will experience pain.

How to Manage Sensitivity

If the pain and sensitivity that comes with using whitening strips is too much, the only way to stop it entirely is to give up the whitening strips. However, if the sensitivity you’re experiencing is minor, there are some steps you can take that may make the feeling more tolerable. First, make sure you’re choosing the lowest percentage of peroxide available, and use it for the minimum amount of time specified on the instructions. You may also benefit from brushing lightly with warm water after treatment, using a specially-formulated anti-sensitivity toothpaste, and steering clear of hot or cold foods and drinks following the use of whitening strips.

Come See Us at Smithfield Dental!

Be sure to keep up with your dental cleanings and exams every six months. If you’re thinking about whitening your teeth or are experiencing pain with your whitening strips, consult with us regarding your best option. Our custom take-home whitening trays will deliver the dramatic results you deserve in a safe and effective way that will reduce your risk of sensitivity. Contact our Smithfield dental office to plan your next visit.

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