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Is Teeth Whitening for Sensitive Teeth Possible?

Brenna Stone

Tooth whitening is a great option for individuals who want to brighten their smile, but is it safe for people with tooth sensitivity? How does teeth whitening for sensitive teeth work? As long as you see your dentist before starting any whitening treatment, you can safely fight discoloration, even if you have sensitive teeth. Your dentist can let you know which options are ideal for you.

What Is Tooth Sensitivity?

A lot of people have sensitive teeth; it is estimated that half of the population deals with tooth sensitivity to some degree. When the dentin, the layer of your teeth that protects the nerves, is exposed, things like heat, cold and acidic foods can cause the sensation of pain. Dentin can become exposed when the hard outer layer of teeth known as enamel is lost through toothbrush abrasion and erosion or gingival recession.

Teeth Whitening for Sensitive Teeth

Tooth whitening can involve bleaching gels; a bleaching agent, generally carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide, is used to whiten the shade of your teeth. You can also brighten your smile without bleaching. The abrasive action of brushing and professional cleaning can help remove surface stains. Whitening toothpastes with chemical or polishing agents can also help with discoloration.

If you already have sensitive teeth, which means you have exposed dentin, then the thought of using high-concentration peroxide gels or brushing with abrasive chemical agents probably sounds unpleasant. The American Dental Association lists tooth sensitivity and gum irritation as possible side effects of peroxide-containing bleaching products. The bleaching gels used today, however, are well buffered, so sensitivity is not a major problem as long as you use dentist-recommended products. If you want to use a whitening toothpaste, choose one that helps to restore your bright smile while also fortifying your teeth, like Colgate Sensitive Whitening. Simply keeping up your oral hygiene habits with daily brushing and flossing and regular dental visits can also promote a whiter smile.

Professional Guidance

Your dentist should be an integral part of your teeth whitening decisions, whether you have sensitive teeth or not. The American Dental Association recommends choosing a bleaching product only after consulting with your dentist. He can examine your mouth and determine which whitening options are right for you, whether it is in-office or at-home bleaching product or a whitening toothpaste. Even without a bleaching procedure, your dentist or dental hygienist can clean your teeth to remove external stains. He can also help treat your tooth sensitivity. Your dentist may suggest using a fluoride rinse, gel or strong fluoride toothpaste to strengthen your teeth. There are also in-office treatments to help with sensitivity, such as fluoride varnishes or plastic resins.

You don't have to settle with those yellow stains just because you have sensitive teeth. In fact, with the guidance of your dentist, you can make your teeth not only brighter, but stronger!

Learn more about taking care of sensitive teeth in the Colgate Oral Care resources.

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