Teeth Whitening Sensitivity: Causes and How to Avoid it and Fix it

Written by Taylor DiGiro

January 09, 2019

One of the biggest complaints of professional teeth whitening is that it causes extreme sensitivity. It is also a concern that stops millions of people from getting their teeth whitened every year, and it’s a perfectly valid one.

According to a poll by Reader’s Digest, teeth whitening led to sensitivity in 78% of cases, while 40% also experienced some kind of gum irritation when using take-home kits.

We spent millions of dollars on R&D specifically to create a product that didn’t cause sensitivity and led to minimal gum irritation. The end result is Snow, a truly revolutionary at-home teeth whitening kit that offers extreme results without extreme sensitivity. But the same can’t be said for the majority of other teeth whitening kits and services out there, so what is it that’s causing this sensitivity, how long does it last, is there anything that can be done about it and what makes Snow different?


teeth whitening no sensitivity

Cause of Teeth Whitening Sensitivity

As discussed in our guides to coffee stains and soda stains, enamel is porous, which means the things you eat and drink can cut through the outer layer and impact on the inner structure. The reason no amount of brushing or rinsing can turn your yellow teeth white is because the stains (which can result from cigarettes, coffee, tea, wine, and many other things) are on the inner surface, known as the dentin.

A teeth whitening gel is able to bleach the whole of the tooth, which means it leeches into those pores and changes the color of the tooth’s structure. Teeth whitening kits often use a highly concreted bleach and that can blister and scar your lips/gums upon contact, and it is this bleach that causes sensitivity and even pain.

The good news is that it’s rarely permanent. If your teeth are otherwise healthy and the whitening service was applied by a professional, then there should be no long term ramifications for your teeth. If you are using an at-home kit that contains concentrated bleaches, however, then it could be a different story and one that could cause long-term damage to the teeth, gums and lips.

There is no such risk with Snow. It’s easy and safe to use and will not lead to dental pain or sensitivity.

What if you Already Have Sensitive Teeth?

If you already suffer from sensitivity then there’s a good chance you’ll experience more when you have your teeth whitened. Sensitivity can be caused by a number of things, but it’s generally the result of damaged or worn tooth enamel, which in turn can result from poor dental hygiene, or a diet that is rich in sugar or acidic foods.

Sensitivity can also result from gum disease, cavities and a chipped tooth, all of which can be diagnosed and treated by your dentist. If you are troubled by sensitivity then book an appointment with your dentist and they will see if anything can be done about it.

They may actually advise against dental teeth whitening if you are suffer from extreme sensitivity, as the compound they use can further weaken and damage your enamel, potentially causing extreme discomfort immediately after the treatment and leading to bigger issues further down the road.

That doesn’t mean that you need to skip on the whitening altogether though. You can still use Snow, which is safe to use even by people with sensitive teeth. You should also look into using a de-sensitizing toothpaste, which can help to strengthen your enamel, and to change your dental hygiene routine. If you brush too hard or use bristles that are too stiff, then you may be making your sensitivity worse. It’s a similar story if you use a whitening toothpaste all of the time (you need a normal fluoride toothpaste to strengthen your teeth as a whitening toothpaste is designed purely for abrasion) or if you use too much mouthwash.

Your dentist can advise on what might be causing your sensitivity during an inspection of your mouth and a review of your oral hygiene routine.

Avoid Teeth Whitening Sensitivity

There is very little that you can do to reduce sensitivity caused by certain teeth whitening kits. If the kit you’re using contains a highly concentrated bleach then there is a good chance it will lead to sensitivity. The alternative is to use Snow, which does not cause sensitivity and is safe for all.

You should also make sure you read the instructions of every kit that you use and make sure you’re using it properly. We went to great lengths to make Snow foolproof and to ensure that mistakes were kept to a minimum and would cause no harm even if they were made. But the same can’t be said for all kits, and the nature of the serums they use means that improper use can lead to weakening of the enamel, gum irritation, and even lip damage.

If you’re concerned about possible sensitivity from a dentist whitening service, then consult your dentist about it and they will advise accordingly. If you want to eliminate possible sensitivity altogether while still turning those teeth pearly white, then use Snow.

How to Reduce Sensitivity

If you have used a bleach-based whitening kit and have sensitive teeth, try the following tips:

  1. Take a break from teeth whitening, wait for a longer period of time between whitening applications, or use a sensitivity-free formula.
  2. Try a toothpaste or gel prescribed for people with sensitive teeth.
  3. Swap your toothbrush for one with soft bristles.
  4. Use lukewarm water when you brush and rinse.
  5. Use de-sensitizing gels before and after you whiten your teeth.
  6. Avoid extremely hot or cold foods for two days altering whitening.
  7. Avoid highly abrasive whitening toothpaste.
  8. Don’t use whitening strips after a dentist-applied whitening service.
  9. Consult your dentist if the sensitivity is extreme and lasts for more than 3 days.