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Teeth Whitening for Sensitive Teeth: Kits, Strips, and More!

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Does teeth whitening for sensitive teeth exist? And if so, what are your best options?

Whitening for sensitive teeth
Is sensitive teeth whitening an option for you?

It's frustrating when you want to whiten your teeth but experience sensitivity every time you try. Peroxide-free products may lessen sensitivity but often produce inferior results. Fortunately, some manufacturers have addressed this with whitening systems formulated especially for sensitive teeth.

In this article, we'll review some of the best options for if you want to whiten teeth and avoid sensitivity. We also look at the ingredients in bleaching systems that cause sensitivity and those that help to ease or prevent it. Let's get started!

Alternatively, if you want to learn more about general tooth sensitivity, you can read our full guide here.

Teeth whitening and sensitivity

If you're reading this article, it's likely that you're one of the many people that suffer from tooth sensitivity, especially during or after whitening cosmetic procedures. This sensitivity can manifest as an aching during a whitening procedure or discomfort when your teeth come into contact with hot or cold stimuli. There are multiple potential causes of such sensitivity, including cavities, cracked or chipped teeth, and gum disease. But when it comes to people with generally healthy teeth, these causes can, for the most part, be divided into two categories: bleaching sensitivity and dentin sensitivity.

Bleaching sensitivity

If your teeth are usually sensitive to hot and cold foods and drinks because of thin enamel, then you're more likely to experience heightened sensitivity after a bleaching treatment. During dental bleaching procedures, peroxide, in the form of gels or solutions, comes into contact with the teeth. These peroxide solutions penetrate the tooth structure and break down and remove stains within your dentin.

During this process, many patients experience bleaching sensitivity, which is only temporary and should go away within a couple of days. This sensitivity doesn't mean that your teeth are necessarily unhealthy. In fact, the reasons why patients experience bleaching sensitivity are currently unknown.

Dentin sensitivity

Another kind of sensitivity is dentin sensitivity. This is permanent, unlike bleaching sensitivity which is temporary, and happens when stimuli come into contact with areas of your tooth that have exposed dentin. When your enamel is thin or dentin is exposed, the peroxide in the bleaching solution can penetrate your dentin, causing pain, sensitivity, or discomfort. If your teeth are usually sensitive to hot and cold foods and drinks because of thin enamel, then you're more likely to experience heightened sensitivity after a bleaching treatment.

Can I get my teeth whitened if I have sensitive teeth?

Yes! Even if you experience sensitivity, teeth whitening is still an option for you. You should always look for solutions that are specifically targeted towards people with tooth sensitivity. Thankfully, there are plenty of options available, like white strips for sensitive teeth, professional whitening for teeth that are sensitive, kits for whitening teeth that are sensitive, and of course special toothpaste options as well. We'll go over all of these, but first let's look at the main whitening ingredients.

Teeth whitening ingredients

whitening sensitivity
What are the ingredients that cause discomfort?

There are myriad ingredients used for lightening tooth color, some more effective than others. And sometimes the ingredients that are the most effective cause the most sensitivity. Some systems provide a solution for this problem by also including ingredients in their sensitive whitener for teeth that help prevent or decrease sensitivity.

Let's take a look at the ingredients in lightening products that are the main culprits of sensitivity and the ingredients that can actually relieve sensitivity.

Ingredients that cause sensitivity

Many whitening products contain peroxide. Peroxide is suspected to be the primary sensitivity culprit. It's usually in the form of hydrogen peroxide, although carbamide peroxide, which breaks down into hydrogen peroxide and urea, is sometimes used as well.

Peroxide passes through the tooth and actually changes the color. Hydrogen peroxide is a weak acid that has oxidizing properties, allowing it to take apart complex stain molecules.

Usually, the pain, sensitivity, or discomfort experienced during or after a bleaching procedure is only temporary. However, in cases where the bleaching agent isn't applied correctly or is applied for too long, there could be permanent effects like damage to the enamel.

Ingredients that prevent sensitivity

Some ingredients used in whitening toothpaste and whitening systems are meant to prevent or decrease tooth sensitivity. Fluoride is one of the ingredients that dentists sometimes use, applying it directly to the teeth to strengthen enamel and reduce pain. Sensodyne, one of the most popular toothpastes for sensitivity, uses potassium nitrate to soothe the nerves inside your teeth and stannous fluoride to strengthen enamel.

There are also products and professional in-office treatments that are designed specifically for those who have tooth sensitivity. These treatments usually come with some sort of desensitizing gel or serum.

One such treatment option is the Snow teeth whitening system, which comes with a desensitizing serum that can be applied directly after whitening treatments or throughout the day and night as needed. The makers of Snow also recommend using Sensodyne toothpaste to brush your teeth in addition to the serum if sensitivity is a big issue for you.

In case these solutions aren't sufficient, have a look at the video below where Dr. Yazdan explains some helpful tips and tricks to prevent tooth sensitivity after whitening.

Best whitening for sensitive teeth

When it comes to whitening sensitive teeth, there are plenty of options, but not all of them are created equal. Let's have a look at some of the most popular (and why) to help you decide which is best for you. The table below summarizes some of the best whitening products for sensitive teeth.

Snow iSmile Crest 3D White Sensitive
Type of whitening LED whitening kit LED whitening kit Whitening strips
Minutes per day 9–30 15 30
Total treatment time 21 days 14 days 14 days
What makes it good for sensitive teeth?
  • Brush-on applicator lets you control where whitening serum goes
  • Desensitizing serum protects teeth from sensitivity and strengthens enamel
  • Whitening formula is specifically designed to ease sensitivity
  • Brush-on applicator lets you control where whitening serum goes
  • Desensitizing serum protects teeth from sensitivity and strengthens enamel
  • Greater adherence to teeth means they won't slip out of place to harm gums or sensitive areas
  • Comes with a Crest sensitivity toothpaste
  • Cost

    Now let's have a more detailed look into these options!

    Snow

    We think that Snow offers one of the best systems available for whitening teeth with sensitivity. With an LED light and extra-strength whitening serum with both carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide, the Snow system produces professional results from the comfort of your home. And with the wireless option, you can whiten your teeth in the shower and on the go. It also uses two lights: a blue light for whitening and a red light for killing germs and bad bacteria. Another advantage of Snow is that you can purchase refills of whitening and desensitizing serums so when you need to refresh your whitening results, you don't have to purchase an entire kit all over again.

    There are two kit options with Snow: the Original Kit and the Wireless Kit.

    If you order the Original Kit, you get :

    • 1 mouthpiece with patent-pending LED technology
    • 3 wands with advanced whitening serum to erase stains
    • 1 extra-strength whitening serum wand
    • 1 progress tracker
    • Cable for connecting to iPhones, USB, and other smartphones
    • 30-day money-back guarantee if you're not happy with the results
    • 5-year warranty

    And when you order the Wireless Kit, you get:

    Snow wireless
    The Snow wireless kit can be used for sensitive teeth
    • Wireless charging LED activating mouthpiece
    • Wireless docking station
    • USB cable
    • Anti-aging lip balm
    • 3 wands with professional whitening serum
    • 1 desensitizing serum for prevention of tooth sensitivity
    • 1 maximum strength wand
    • Luxury travel case
    • 30-day money-back guarantee if you're not happy with the results
    • 5-year warranty

    There are two main reasons why Snow is one of the brands that we recommend for teeth whitening without sensitivity:

    • Brush-on applicator: With most systems, you apply the serum inside the trays and then put them in your mouth. The problem with this is that as soon as you press the trays around your teeth, any excess whitening gel can spill over onto your gums. This can cause pain, discomfort, and sensitivity, especially in people who already have problems with sensitivity. With Snow, however, you use the brush applicators to brush a bit of gel directly onto your teeth. That means that the gel goes where you want it to, instead of all over your gums.
    • Desensitizing serum: When you order the Snow Wireless Kit, you automatically get a wand filled with the desensitizing serum. If you order the Original Kit, we recommend you also purchase this serum if you're concerned about sensitivity issues. This serum protects teeth from sensitivity-causing agents and helps seal out future intrinsic and surface stains. It also strengthens enamel and infuses teeth with essential vitamins and minerals.

    Snow should be used for 9 to 30 minutes per day for 21 days. Results last for over a year, and when you want to whiten again, you can just purchase refills of the gel. So, is Snow the best teeth whitening kit for sensitive teeth? Read our full review to find out.

    If you do decide to whiten your teeth with Snow, you can get 25% off your entire order with promo code SMILE.

    iSmile

    iSmile whitening kit
    This kit comes with a desensitizing serum

    iSmile is another type of home teeth whitening kit that uses both blue and red lights. Just like with Snow, the blue light activates the teeth whitening gel, and enhances the whitening effect. The red light, however, while used to kill germs in the Snow kit, is used to relieve sensitivity in the iSmile kit. The gel pens contain carbamide peroxide for whitening, and this kit also comes with a desensitizing pen to remineralize and protect teeth. Each kit comes with:

    • 3 professional-strength teeth whitening pens
    • 1 professional tooth desensitizing gel pen
    • iSmile California red and blue LED lights mouthpiece

    The professional strength whitening pens contain 35% carbamide peroxide, which iSmile says can whiten your teeth up to 10 shades lighter in just 15 minutes per day, for two weeks.

    iSmile is so confident that their product will work that they offer a 100% money back guarantee if you aren't satisfied with your whitening results.

    teeth whitener sensitive teeth
    Whitestrips for sensitive teeth

    Crest 3D White Sensitive

    These Whitestrips are one of the most popular options for best whitening strips for sensitive teeth. The strips are made with Crest's classic 3D white formula with hydrogen peroxide as the active ingredient, and you apply them for 30 minutes per day for two weeks.

    They are specially formulated with a harder glue on the strips instead of a gel so the strips won't move out of place. These particular strips also come with a sensitivity toothpaste by Crest, which works to protect teeth all day from sensitivity.

    Crest claims that these sensitive strips, when used with the sensitive toothpaste can:

    • Remove years of stains
    • Relieve sensitivity within days
    • Protect against further staining from food and drink

    Conclusion

    You may want to whiten your teeth but are hesitant to do so because of sensitivity issues. If that's the case, there are plenty of options you can try that are made specifically to give people with tooth sensitivity a brighter smile. In this article, we reviewed three options that we think are some of the best teeth whitening for sensitive teeth options. You may want to try them out to see if they work for you.

    You should always remember, however, that a healthy smile comes in many shades; your teeth don't need to be Hollywood white to be in top shape. As long as you brush twice a day, floss at least once a day, and visit your dentist at least once a year, you have a smile to be proud of.

    FAQs

    Why are my teeth sensitive to whitening?

    Your teeth may be sensitive because of the bleaching agent, peroxide, that is used in most whitening systems. It's still not known exactly why peroxide can cause pain, discomfort, and sensitivity, but if this is a problem for you, you can try one of the whitening systems we mention above or choose an option without peroxide.

    How long does teeth sensitivity last after whitening?

    Sensitivity from teeth whitening usually only lasts up to 48 hours after a whitening procedure. To relieve symptoms, you should use a toothpaste that helps reduce sensitivity.

    Can I get my teeth whitened if I have sensitive teeth?

    You can get your teeth whitened if you have sensitive teeth, but you should look for products marketed specifically for tooth sensitivity. Some at-home kits come with a desensitizing serum, while others use gentler ingredients.

    What is the best teeth whitening product for sensitivity?

    Snow, Crest, and iSmile all make effective whitening products for teeth with sensitivity. Out of these options, we think that Snow is one of the best. It delivers professional results that last over a year and comes with a special desensitizing serum.

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    Contributors:
    Natalie Asmussen
    Natalie Asmussen
    Natalie Asmussen on LinkedinNatalie Asmussen on Website
    Natalie used to work as a Community Health Worker and Health Insurance Navigator. She continues to follow her passion for connecting people with the healthcare they need by writing informative content about dentistry and medicine.
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