I like going to the dentist. (No, I’m not crazy.) My dentist is pretty great. There are snacks in the waiting room, bottled water, tea, coffee, magazines ... juice boxes, toys, and movies for little people.
You just gotta love a dentist who provides you with drinks, snacks, and entertainment for kids! It’s fantastic.
Suppose I am hungry because I had to run to the dentist during my lunch hour, no worries. I can grab a little bit of free sustenance. Niiiice.
So, when they call my name to leave my comfy chair in the lobby, I’m not scared. I’m not even a little bit nervous. When they show me the reclined chair and ask me to sit down in it, I am A-okay. All I have to do is look up at the ceiling, and there is a show playing on the ceiling TV. I can relax to a little Chip and Joanna Gaines house action.
It’s pretty great.
As a matter of fact, it’s all totally fine and dandy right up until the hygienist starts scraping my teeth. That’s when the tension starts. That’s when I form a death grip on the arms of the chair.
Just about that time, my prayers start … Dear sweet baby Jesus … Yea tho I walk through this valley of death by dental lady, please deliver me from this teeny death poker she wields against me. I offer up my right kidney …
Such a baby. So dramatic.
But if you know, you know.
That darn thing hurts. Especially when it hits that little place between my bottom teeth, it’s as if she is touching an exposed nerve with a red-hot poker. My jaw is literally tightening up just thinking about it. I shudder.
Somebody has sensitive teeth, and it’s me. Right here. This one.
Sensitive teeth can be so annoying. Some days you barely notice them, and other days you’re wincing left and right and crying over a slushie that you can only dream of slurping down. (Or a margarita. That may be more realistic.)
Yep. Our teeth might hurt at the sight of an ice cube, but we still want what most other Americans want—whiter teeth.
Whiter teeth are more attractive, boost our confidence, and they give us a healthier appearance.
The Effect of Whitening Agents on Sensitive Teeth
Whiter-teeth wishes and sensitive teeth do not make a great match. At all. One of the unpleasant side effects of having your teeth whitened is increased sensitivity with a teeth whitening kit.
I know. I know … It’s not fair. You’re already suffering from those darn sensitive teeth. Now you have to live with yellow teeth, too?
Nawhh. Buck up, little camper. Keep on reading. There is more for you to learn.
For now, we’re going to discuss the reasons why your teeth become more sensitive when you use a whitening agent on them.
Our teeth are made up of little bitty microtubules. They run all throughout the teeth. When the enamel is worn thin, it exposes those tubules.
This is important to be mindful of because those microtubules lead straight to the nerves. So when the microtubules are exposed, it essentially means that the nerves are exposed. Aaand, boom. There you go. Sensitivity.
What’s the big deal? Well, the bleaching solution used to create whiter teeth causes your enamel to become more porous and removes minerals. Porous enamel means exposed microtubules. Removing minerals leads to thinner enamel. You know what that means—sensitivity.
So typically, that’s how it happens. The good news is that your teeth can be remineralized. Remineralization decreases sensitivity because it rebuilds the enamel that has been worn thin.
(If exposed roots cause your sensitivity, then that’s a completely different story involving your gums receding.)
How Do You Whiten Sensitive Teeth?
In the wise words of Wham!, “If you’re gonna do it, do it right …” Yep. There is a right way to go about whitening.
Deal with your oral health issues first. Do not whiten your teeth if you have any oral health issues. Your dentist must first address gum disease and tooth decay before attempting to make cosmetic improvements to your teeth.
If you do not do this, you will be exacerbating any existing issues. You don’t want your mouth to be less healthy just by whitening your teeth.
Brush before you whiten. You should never brush right after you whiten. As you just learned, the whitening solution takes away your minerals and leaves the enamel in a porous state. So brushing right away is like using sandpaper on wet cardboard. It damages it.
Use a soft-bristled toothbrush, too. And be certain to brush with gentle pressure. Scrubbing your teeth and gums like you’re removing stains from concrete is never a good idea! You will do more harm than good.
Adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions. Those detailed instructions are included with the products for a good reason. Don’t ignore them and choose just to wing it. (Guilty. I’m a winger.) Just like it is for the rest of life, there are consequences for foolish choices!
The instructions will tell you how to apply the product correctly, how long it should remain on the teeth, the number of days to use it, etc. Do not exceed the recommended time. That will unnecessarily increase sensitivity.
Do NOT overuse whitening treatments. People can develop a bit of an obsession with whitening their teeth. Please don’t be one of those people. Your enamel cannot recover if you are constantly whitening. Weak teeth are unhealthy teeth.
Overusing will only serve to cause more sensitivity. That is exactly what you want to avoid. If you stick to the instructions, you should be safe. It is better to be on the conservative side when you have sensitive teeth.
Rinse. You do not want the bleaching solution to sit on your teeth any longer than necessary. So even after you’ve spat it all out, rinse thoroughly.
Get a mouthful of lukewarm water and swish it around. This will take care of any remaining acidity. The acidity erodes your teeth and makes them vulnerable to harm—even harm by the act of brushing.
Desensitize when you whiten. There are several kinds of toothpaste on the market designed for sensitive teeth. Be sure to incorporate one of them into your daily oral hygiene routine in order to reduce sensitivity.
Or you can utilize a desensitizing gel. This is done by placing a little bit of the gel on your teeth and gums’ sensitive areas. You can apply this as needed.
Lower peroxide is best for sensitive teeth. The level of peroxide varies from product to product. Sensitive teeth will do better with a product that contains a lower level of peroxide.
Higher levels of peroxide may show faster results, but its effect on sensitive teeth brings pain. There is no need for that. You can achieve whiter teeth with products containing lower levels of peroxide and avoid painful sensitivity.
How Can You Deal with the Pain?
Don’t borrow trouble. In other words, do not make your pain worse than it needs to be. Avoid brushing too hard. Your teeth are vulnerable while you are whitening. Brushing with too much force or using a hard toothbrush can damage your teeth.
Products are important. There is calcium-based toothpaste for sensitive teeth that help to remineralize the teeth while reducing sensitivity. Simple ibuprofen can also be taken to reduce the inflammation and pain associated with sensitive teeth.
Eat wisely. Reduce the amount of acidic and sugary foods that tend to increase sensitivity. And avoid those extra cups of coffee and tea, wine and soda.
More acid in your mouth means the erosion of your enamel. More acid also means tooth decay. Teeth that are decaying will never remain white.
What Are the Whitening Options for Sensitive Teeth?
We’ve told you what to do first, what to watch out for, and what not to do for your sensitive-teeth-whitening adventure.
This is exactly what it sounds like. You will need to go to your dentist’s office in order to have your teeth whitened professionally. Is it the cheapest? Nope. But it may be the wisest option for people struggling with sensitive teeth.
Having a dentist whiten your teeth means that your mouth will be monitored for safety and accuracy the entire time. It is also highly effective and keeps the teeth whiter for a longer period of time than most at-home treatments.
For many people, veneers are the surefire way to have whiter teeth. There is no denying that veneers transform smiles.
Your dentist may tell you that whitening your teeth is not a great choice for your sensitive teeth because the enamel has been worn too thin. In such a case, veneers may be suggested.
Whitening At Home
This is the most common option for whitening teeth. Whitening your teeth at home is the most convenient and cost-effective option. This can be done through toothpaste, strips, mouth rinse, gels, or whitening trays.
Snow has an at-home whitening system that will give you stunning results in the comfort of your own home. AND Snow can provide you with a desensitizing gel to boot! That is a win-win for sensitive teeth sufferers who long for whiter teeth.
Pay attention to all of these pointers, and you should be headed down the right path to whiter teeth.
If you’d prefer to have your dentist do the job for you, well, I hope you find one with snacks and juice boxes to calm your nerves.