Tooth whitening is a great option for individuals who want to brighten their smiles, but is it safe for people with sensitive teeth? 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 best for you.
What Is Tooth Sensitivity?
A lot of people have sensitive teeth; it is estimated that half of the population experiences tooth sensitivity. When the dentin, the layer of your teeth that protects the nerves, is exposed to stimuli such as heat, cold and acidic foods, a painful sensation can occur. Dentin becomes exposed when the hard outer layer of teeth, known as enamel, is lost due to toothbrush abrasion, enamel erosion or gingival recession.
Teeth Whitening for Sensitive Teeth
Tooth whitening often involves 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, meaning your dentin is exposed, 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. However, the bleaching gels used today are well buffered, so sensitivity is not a major problem as long as you use dentist-recommended products. If you want to use whitening toothpaste, choose one that helps to restore your bright smile while also fortifying your teeth, such as Colgate® Sensitive Whitening toothpaste . Simply keeping up your oral hygiene habits with daily brushing, flossing and regular dental visits can also promote a whiter smile.
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. Your dentist can examine your mouth and determine which whitening option is best for you, whether it is in-office treatment, an at-home bleaching product or an over-the-counter whitening toothpaste. Even without a bleaching procedure, your dentist or dental hygienist can clean your teeth to remove external stains. Your dentist may suggest using a fluoride rinse, gel or strong fluoride toothpaste to strengthen your teeth and treat tooth sensitivity. 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!