Fact Checked

How Long Does Teeth Sensitivity Last After Whitening?

Written by Fernanda Elizalde

October 31, 2022

Medically Reviewed

By Dr. Brian Harris, DDS

Teeth whitening procedures continue to surge in popularity. Professional teeth whitening treatments and at-home whitening products make the whitening process effective and convenient.

However, many people experience discomfort and sensitive teeth after a teeth whitening procedure. Sensitivity after teeth whitening is also known as dentinal hypersensitivity. The bleaching agent used in the tooth whitening gel seeps through the tooth enamel and temporarily reaches the nerves.

Thankfully, tooth sensitivity does not last long. This article will cover the causes of sensitive teeth, how to reduce sensitivity, and how long recovery takes.

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Causes of tooth sensitivity

You're not alone when it comes to sensitive teeth. Here are some of the most common causes behind dental sensitivity.

Overuse of teeth whitening treatments

Overusing teeth whitening products can lead to teeth sensitivity and dental problems. Even American Dental Association-approved treatments can be harmful if used excessively.

Over usage can lead to gum irritation, translucent teeth, eroded tooth enamel, and increased tooth sensitivity. Never cram-whiten your teeth before a big event or life moment. Always use the treatment as recommended to be safe.

Sensitivity to active ingredients

The two most common active ingredients in teeth whitening treatments are hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide. Both are powerful bleaching agents that lift deep tooth stains. Unfortunately, these ingredients will not work on dental crowns or false teeth.

You're using the wrong teeth whitening treatment

Whether you're using a whitening toothpaste, at-home whitening trays, or a paint-on bleaching gel, the whitening products you use can make your whitening session more or less painful.

It's crucial to find the proper treatment for you. Certain products have higher concentrations of teeth bleaching ingredients. The method also matters. Perhaps a paint-on bleaching gel or LED mouthpiece will work better for you than whitening trays. It's all about finding what works best for your oral anatomy. 

How to reduce teeth sensitivity

It's essential to reduce sensitivity further by taking preventative measures and practicing good aftercare.

After your teeth whitening treatment, you should avoid foods with citrus and hot or cold liquids. Cold foods and cold drinks can significantly trigger sharp sensitivity. If you must indulge in a hot or cold beverage, use a straw to help minimize contact with your teeth.

Here are some ways to reduce pain and teeth sensitivity.

Talk to your dentist first

Before getting a teeth whitening treatment, visit your dentist first. Dental patients should get a complete oral exam to ensure their oral health is in good standing.

Your dentist can check to see if you have receding gums or need oral surgery. They may also recommend a tooth cleaning or fluoride treatment before your next whitening procedure.

Use a desensitizing toothpaste

Start using a desensitizing toothpaste a week before to your appointment to minimize pain. Using a desensitizing toothpaste with a soft-bristled toothbrush can help block pain signals. It's a sensitive teeth toothpaste that helps numb your mouth.

Take a pain reliever

Before your next whitening session, take pain medication to help ease pain and sensitivity. Advil or Tylenol are over-the-counter pain relievers that are effective. You can also take medication (as directed) after your treatment if the pain persists.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long does teeth whitening sensitivity last?

It's normal to experience high sensitivity after a whitening procedure. The active ingredients used in at-home and professional whitening treatments are intense and effective.

You can take Ibuprofen to help alleviate the pain until it entirely disappears. Another remedy that may help is using toothpaste for sensitive teeth. A sensitive teeth toothpaste will help soothe inflamed nerves, strengthen your enamel, and improve your gum health.

Teeth sensitivity after a whitening treatment usually lasts 24 to 48 hours. If sensitivity lasts more than a few days, consult your dentist to discuss potential solutions.

Is teeth whitening safe?

Yes. Over-the-counter products and professional whitening treatments are considered safe and effective. According to the American Dental Association, peroxide products are safe to brighten your teeth.

Teeth whitening is safe as long as you use the product as directed and follow the instructions. Remember, over usage can lead to damaged teeth.

You'll also want to consult your dentist first to get their advice on the best whitening treatment for you. Whitening procedures may work on yellow teeth stainsbut perhaps not on brown or gray tooth discoloration.


It's normal to experience discomfort and sensitivity after whitening treatments. Hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide are potent active ingredients found in most teeth whitening treatments. These bleaching agents may cause temporary pain. Thankfully, the pain usually goes away after 24 to 48 hours.

You can take preventative measures such as meeting with your dentist, taking pain medication, and using desensitizing products. Always use the product as directed and practice mindful aftercare. Your pearly whites will thank you.

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