Fact Checked

Why Do My Teeth Hurt After Whitening Strips?

Written by Fernanda Elizalde

August 24, 2022

Medically Reviewed

By Dr. James Younan, DDS

A bright white smile will also boost your self-confidence. There are many at-home treatments you can use to whiten your teeth and achieve desirable results.

Among the many whitening products out on the market, whitening strips have become the number one choice for many. They are affordable and give you a beautiful smile that'll win you compliments.

Whitening strips may cause some discomfort or even tooth sensitivity during and even after the process. This is common, and there is nothing to worry about.

In fact, most over-the-counter whitening brands are known to contain the well-known bleaching agent - hydrogen peroxide, which can cause sensitivity.

Some whitening strips have higher concentrations of this whitening agent, which causes gum irritation, teeth sensitivity, and mild pain.

Snow teeth whitening kit

How do I soothe sensitive teeth?

Ideally, you should first meet with your dentist so they can check the health of your teeth and make recommendations for the right treatment.

If you're already using teeth whitening treatments, you can reduce teeth and gum sensitivity after treatment by not drinking any hot or cold beverages or eating any sugary food.

This can further irritate your mouth and make your teeth sensitive. Also, avoid using very cold or very hot water while brushing. Lukewarm water works the best.

Wear the whitening strips for less time if you struggle with tooth sensitivity. You can use the strips every few days instead of every day to give your teeth a break. This will help greatly with the discomfort often caused by whitening strips.

You may also switch to a toothpaste meant for sensitive teeth to reduce the sensitivity and give you a whiter smile.

A toothpaste for sensitive teeth will contain special active ingredients that help soothe the nerve endings in your teeth. Check the label for the percentage. A higher percentage may be too high for your teeth and also damage teeth.

If you experienced pain with one brand, switch to one that has a lower concentration of peroxide.

Tips to Reduce Sensitivity

If you are whitening your teeth at home and develop pain, discomfort, or sensitivity, try implementing the tips below.

Follow the instructions properly

Stick to the instructions whether you are using the strips at home or visiting a dental professional. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for all over-the-counter products. Never use the product for longer than suggested.

Adjust frequency

Do not treat your teeth every day if it's causing intense discomfort. Use shorter application times and give your teeth a short break between treatments to alleviate symptoms such as tooth sensitivity.

Take pain medication

Taking pain medication, such as Advil or Aleve, can do wonders in reducing and preventing symptoms of sensitive teeth if you take it before you apply the strips.

Use a product with less peroxide

A higher level of peroxide may trigger more tooth sensitivity. A teeth whitening treatment with a peroxide level of 3% to 5% is perfect to get your teeth whitened and is more gentle.

Limit cold drinks during treatment

Tooth whitening temporarily makes your teeth more sensitive. Shortly after treatment, do not drink any cold drinks to reduce teeth whitening sensitivity.

Use a fluoride mouthwash

Fluoride treatments can be a savior when it comes to tooth sensitivity. Use a fluoride mouthwash after you whiten your teeth for best results.

Use a soft-bristled toothbrush

The more gentle you are on your sensitive teeth, the sooner you'll feel better. Softer bristles are gentle on your teeth and gums. Using a soft-bristled toothbrush after whitening products will help alleviate symptoms of sensitive teeth.

Talk to your dentist

Whitening treatments can be tricky, so when in doubt, call your dentist. If the whitening products you use cause sensitivity, do not ignore it since it can turn into something more serious if left unattended. You may need to have cavities filled or need teeth cleaning before your next whitening treatment.

Use desensitizing products

The best way to alleviate tooth sensitivity caused by teeth whitening treatments is to use desensitizing products. Talk to your dentist for the right course of treatment for extreme tooth sensitivity. This is a great option if you experience discomfort.

Snow Whitening Toothpaste

Ways to prevent pain and tooth sensitivity issues

Pay attention to bleaching gel concentrations

It is important to make sure that bleaching agent concentration of carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide is not too high.If you are unsure about the concentrations, it is best you get your teeth whitened at the dentist's office or consult with your dentist before using the product.

Do not leave bleaching trays or strips on for too long

The whitening procedure is not long. It is a quick process that lasts 10 - 30 minutes.Be sure to follow the instructions closely and remove the trays or strips within the designated time frame.

It is easy to reduce sensitivity as long as you follow these simple tips. Whitening strips do work and are considered one of the best teeth whitening treatments. Combine whitening strips with whitening toothpaste and reap the benefits of professional teeth whitening results at home.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will tooth sensitivity go away after treatment?

Once you have finished using your whitening strips, your pain and sensitivity should subside in a few hours or days. However, if the sensitivity persists, you should consult with your dentist since this could be a sign of other underlying oral health concerns.

Is teeth whitening safe?

Yes, as long as the whitening treatments are used as directed.

According to the American Dental Association, whitening products using bleaching agents are considered safe as long as they are used as directed and in moderation. Teeth whitening treatments are considered safe by dentists.

How long does teeth whitening last?

Though teeth whitening strips do not give permanent results, you can enjoy great results for a prolonged time. A typical teeth whitening treatment can last a few months.

As long as you limit food and drinks that stain your teeth and avoid smoking, your teeth whitening treatment can last a long time.

Does teeth whitening hurt?

It may hurt if you're sensitive to the active ingredients found in over-the-counter whitening solutions. You may have to endure some amount of pain and discomfort, which will fade a few days after the treatment. Follow up by using sensitive whitening toothpaste for best results.

How many shades brighter can I whiten my teeth?

The amount of whitening you can achieve will solely depend on the whitening product you pick out and your goals. Generally, most whitening treatments can brighten your teeth by 5 to 10 shades. Your results will be more noticeable if you have surface stains.

Can I get teeth whitening if I have veneers or dentures?

Whitening treatments are designed with the sole purpose of enhancing the whiteness of your natural tooth enamel.

If you have composite restorations, porcelain veneers, crowns, dentures, or a bridge, this treatment will not work on them.

A dental professional will need to replace your existing restorations in order to match the new shade of your teeth. Your dental office can provide recommendations.

Who is teeth whitening for?

Anyone can get their teeth whitened. If you are longing for a whiter and brighter smile, and do not have gum disease, you are a good candidate for teeth whitening strips.

These strips are very powerful and can banish stubborn stains on your teeth without ruining your natural teeth or existing dental work.

LED Electric Toothbrush


Your dentist may also be able to prescribe medication to reduce sensitivity and a good toothpaste for sensitive teeth to add to your oral care routine.

Teeth whitening options such as whitening strips are given the green light by dentists. They're safe and effective to use and can help remove stubborn stains while brightening your pearly whites.