Whitening your sensitive teeth
Everybody wants to brighten their smile so that they have glistening white teeth, but if you suffer tooth sensitivity, it’s natural to be unsure about tooth whitening options.
The good news is that as long as you see your dental professional before starting any whitening treatment, even if you have sensitive teeth you can safely fight discolouration. Your dental professional can let you know which options are best for you.
What is tooth sensitivity?
A lot of people have sensitive teeth. In fact, it's estimated that between 25-30% of the population experiences tooth sensitivity. Tooth sensitivity is the painful sensation that occurs when the dentine, the layer of your teeth that protects the nerves, is exposed to stimuli such as heat, cold and acidic foods.
Dentine becomes exposed when the hard outer layer of teeth, known as enamel, wears away or is lost as a result of, for example, aggressive brushing, enamel erosion or when gums recede and the root surfaces of teeth are uncovered.
Teeth whitening for sensitive teeth
Tooth whitening often involves using a bleaching gel or bleaching agent, generally carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide, to whiten the shade of your teeth.
But you can also brighten your smile without bleaching. The cleaning action of brushing and professional prophylaxis can help remove surface stains. Using whitening toothpastes with polishing agents can also help with discolouration.
If you have sensitive teeth, meaning you have some exposed dentine, you might think that using peroxide gels would be uncomfortable. You may well be right and you should seek the advice of your dental professional who will be able to guide you. However, the bleaching gels used today are well buffered, which helps to reduce sensitivity issues. Your dental professional will be able to advise you on concentrations of peroxide and time frames that will help minimise sensitivity plus advise about products you can use to combat teeth sensitivity. It is very important that your dental professional examines your mouth so that you have the best product recommended for your needs.
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 Pro-Relief™ Smart White toothpaste. Discuss with your dental professional whether you could use a specialist whitening toothpaste like Colgate® Optic White™ Stain-less White in conjunction with a Colgate® Sensitive Pro-Relief™ toothpaste to manage your sensitivity.
Simply keeping up your oral hygiene habits with daily brushing, flossing and regular dental visits can also promote a whiter smile.
Whether or not you have sensitive teeth, it’s important to always consult your dental professional if you are considering whitening your teeth.
The Australian Dental Association recommends consulting a dental professional if you are thinking about whitening your teeth. Your dental professional can examine your mouth and determine which whitening option is best for you. Even without a bleaching procedure, your dental professional or dental hygienist can clean your teeth to remove external stains.
Your dental professional may suggest using a fluoride rinse, gel or strong fluoride toothpaste to strengthen your teeth and treat tooth sensitivity. There are also dental treatments to help with sensitivity, such as fluoride varnishes or plastic resins.
Don’t settle for yellow stains and discolouration just because you have sensitive teeth. With the guidance of your dental professional, you can make your teeth not only brighter, but stronger!
This page/article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment. Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, talk to your health professional.
For instant relief, apply directly to sensitive tooth with fingertip for one minute. For lasting relief, brush twice daily.
†Repairs with twice daily brushing to block the channels leading to sensitive teeth.