Should I Get Whitening If I Have Sensitive Teeth?
Should I Get Whitening If I Have Sensitive Teeth?
Cosmetic Dentistry

Should I Get Whitening If I Have Sensitive Teeth?

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What to avoid and why it's important to talk to a dentist if you're considering whitening your smile.

3 minute read

Convenient, safe and capable of impressive results, it's no surprise that teeth whitening is the most popular cosmetic treatment in Australia, but it's not always right for everyone.

If you have sensitive teeth, whitening will normally still be an option, but treatment needs to be chosen with care and carried out under guidance of a qualified dental professional.

Read more about safe teeth whitening for sensitive teeth and other cosmetic options for enhancing your smile.

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Talk to a dentist

In the past few years, TikTok has run the gamut of dangerous dental trends that have promised to enhance, straighten and whiten teeth but seem to only end up increasing your oral health risks. However, if you're considering any cosmetic treatments to change your smile, you should always talk to a registered dentist first before trying any product or service. This is especially important if you have sensitive teeth, as your dentist can recommend suitable products or alternatives for your individual needs.

Your dentist will examine your teeth and gums, review your medical history and discuss your tooth sensitivity before they can decide whether whitening will be safe and effective for you. They will make sure you understand what results can be expected with different treatments and all possible benefits and risks.


Whitening options for sensitive teeth

The two main options for professional teeth whitening are in-chair whitening provided by a dentist and home whitening with custom-made trays designed using impressions taken of your teeth. Both involve different timelines, techniques and varying concentrations of whitening gels that can affect their results and suitability for sensitive teeth.

It's important that your mouth is healthy and free of tooth decay and gum disease before you begin any cosmetic dentistry treatment. For the best possible results from whitening, we recommend our patients have professional dental cleaning within the previous month to remove plaque and surface stains.


In-chair whitening

Many dental clinics offer teeth whitening as an in-office treatment that can be completed in a single visit, compared to one or more weeks for at-home whitening. This is possible as dentists are qualified to use higher concentrations of bleaching gels which are activated by laser light to offer immediate results.

However, stronger concentrations of bleaching gel can exacerbate tooth sensitivity in some people and for this reason, may not be recommended by your dentist.


Home teeth whitening

At Mount Lawley Dental, our dentists recommend home whitening treatment for people with sensitive teeth. This involves using custom-made mouth trays and a whitening gel specially formulated to achieve the best possible results without causing you discomfort. The trays must be worn for several hours each night for up to 2 weeks, depending on how much whitening is desired.

Whitening kits are available from some stores and also beauty clinics, however custom-made trays provided by a dentist are the key to effective teeth whitening. A custom kit that is designed especially for your mouth and used following your dentists’ guidance can lower your risk of any chemical burns and maximise whitening results. The impressions taken of your teeth by your dentists are used to create custom whitening trays that are a perfect fit, ensuring more even coverage of whitening gel over your teeth and preventing gel spills onto the gums and soft tissue areas.

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DIY teeth whitening

Teeth whitening products and treatments that are not provided by a dentist or under their guidance involve a higher risk of side effects and unpredictable results, so these are not recommended, particularly if you have an existing sensitivity issue.

You should also avoid home remedies such as brushing your teeth with baking soda or charcoal toothpaste, as abrasive ingredients in these products can damage or weaken tooth enamel and increase tooth sensitivity.


What are the risks of teeth whitening?

Increased tooth sensitivity is a possible side effect of teeth whitening, especially if you already have sensitive teeth. This can last up to a week after treatment but is more common following in-chair whitening that uses a higher concentration of bleaching agent.

The advantage of home whitening is that if you experience sensitivity, you can take a break from wearing your trays whenever you need to and continue treatment when you’re ready.

More serious risks from teeth whitening can include chemical burns to the gums and accidentally swallowing the whitening gel. These risks are significantly reduced when whitening treatment is provided by a qualified and registered dentist who provides you with custom trays, as there's less chance of the gel spilling.

A dentist can also determine whether an alternative cosmetic treatment may help you achieve the results you desire.


Alternatives to teeth whitening for sensitive teeth

If you want to avoid possible pain and discomfort from teeth whitening, your dentist may discuss other cosmetic solutions to cover up stains or discolouration. These treatments may also help to reduce sensitivity by protecting or restoring teeth. Treatments may include:

  • Tooth bonding – applying composite resin to tooth surfaces to cover up discoloured patches or other blemishes. Composite bonding can also fill in minor chips and cracks.
  • Dental veneers – thin shells of porcelain or composite resin bonded to the front surface of the tooth to enhance their appearance. However, placing porcelain veneers can require removing a thin layer of enamel (about 0.5mm), which may increase sensitivity.
  • Dental crowns – custom-designed caps placed over teeth to change their shape or appearance. Crowns may also be recommended to reinforce weak, worn or damaged teeth.


How can I keep my teeth white?

Tooth discolouration can be caused by general wear and tear and natural ageing, making it unavoidable however, the most common stains can be avoided. Making small changes to your diet or daily habits could help you to keep teeth whiter for longer, even after you’d had professional whitening treatment.

You can reduce the chance of tooth staining by:

  • Avoiding food and drink with staining pigments, such as red wine, coffee, tea, soft drinks and dark-coloured sauces (or rinsing with water immediately afterwards)
  • Drinking staining beverages through a straw and not holding liquids in your mouth
  • Sipping water with food and drink to rinse your mouth
  • Quitting smoking
  • Brushing your teeth twice a day using fluoride toothpaste to reduce plaque
  • Flossing once a day to remove plaque stuck between your teeth
  • Drinking water throughout the day to rinse your mouth from snacks and drinks
  • Visiting your dentist for a 6-monthly check-up and cleans to remove plaque and calculus


Safe teeth whitening in Mount Lawley

If you're considering teeth whitening for sensitive teeth, book a consultation with our dentists at Mount Lawley Dental to discuss your options. We use Philips Zoom!® NiteWhite for home whitening, which is specially formulated for sensitive teeth and can achieve similar if not better results than in-chair whitening.

Call our team today on (08) 9227 8777 or book an appointment online. We also welcome patients from Highgate, Inglewood, North Perth and all nearby suburbs.


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