Have you tried whitening your teeth in the past but found it really sensitive? Or do you want to whiten your teeth but worried that your teeth may become sensitive? Sensitivity during whitening can be a temporary side effect which is not very nice. Here are some things you can do to help:
First: ensure you have had an examination appointment (check-up) with your dentist. Any areas of decay or exposed root surfaces will be very sensitive with whitening and can contribute to issues if not treated. Your dentist can check your teeth and complete any required treatment prior to doing whitening
Build some protection: Even if you don’t normally suffer from sensitive teeth using a sensitivity toothpaste such as Sensodyne Repair and Protect or Colgate Sensitive Pro Relief for a few weeks prior to whitening can drastically improve any discomfort. There may still be some sensitivity but hopefully it won’t be as bad.
Use a good quality whitening product which has been kept cold (such as Kor): Whitening products can be kept active by keeping the product cold or by adding preservatives to the gel. At room temperature and above, whitening gels will start to degrade and produce oxygen ions. It is these oxygen ions which whiten the teeth so if they have been produced and expired prior to use, the whitening result will be much less. Whitening products which are cheap are full of preservatives (to try and maintain effectiveness) can make the nerve more irritated during treatments
Use a lower concentration of product or use the product for a shorter duration: this can help reduce the sensitivity experienced by the teeth but will mean the whitening process can take longer and require more product to get the same result.
Use a de-sensitising agent: Tiny tubes run from the surface of the tooth to the nerve. These are called dentinal tubules. Natural barriers close off the openings of these tubes but whitening gel removes these barriers meaning that stimuli can irritate the nerve. Desensitisers such as Kor De-sensitiser fuses to the tooth structure and closes any open dentine tubes.
Avoid extreme hot and cold temperature: If any tubes (above) do remain open it means the nerve inside teeth will become more responsive to extremes of temperature. It is a good idea to avoid ice cream, cold tap water/other cold drinks from the fridge and very hot food/drinks while whitening your teeth and for a short duration afterwards. It can also be a good idea to use luke warm water when brushing your teeth.
Take pain relief: If your teeth are feeling achy during the treatment you could consider taking some over the counter pain relief such as paracetamol which may help to relieve the achiness.