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Teeth Whitening Solutions for Sensitive Teeth

8 min read
by Dylan Hao |

When you have sensitive teeth, you learn how to go through your day avoiding certain triggers. 

Ice cream? 

No way! 

Hot coffee? 

Only if it’s the one thing standing between you and going straight back to bed.

But just because your teeth are sensitive doesn’t mean you can’t have pearly whites. 

However, you must be cautious about the whitening products you use on your enamel, or that sensitivity might be exponentially worse.

How can you use teeth whitening products to brighten your smile without dialing up discomfort? 

Check out these answers to your dilemma in the form of the top teeth whitening solutions for your sensitive teeth.

custom teeth whitening trays from JS Dental

Why Are Your Teeth Sensitive?

Before you choose a whitening solution, it’s crucial to know what’s causing the sensitivity. 

It may be an easy fix, or it could be a problem that whitening chemicals, like carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide, can wreak havoc on.

Sensitive teeth are usually caused by an issue with at least one tooth or your gums, such as:

  • Worn down enamel
  • Exposed tooth roots
  • Cavities (dental caries) from tooth decay
  • Cracked or chipped teeth
  • Worn fillings
  • Gum disease

For some of us, it’s related to genetics.

If your DNA is connected to conditions such as Dentinogenesis Imperfecta or Amelogenesis Imperfecta, your enamel is naturally weaker. Enamel is the hard shell that protects the softer layer of dentin. 

Dentin has two main roles

  • Supporting the tooth's structure
  • Covering the dental pulp

The pulpy area is where all the nerve fibers are located. When they’re exposed, it hurts.

Why Your Whitener Can Increase Sensitivity

While each sensitivity cause requires different treatment methods, they all boil down to the same common thread: 

The enamel is damaged, and the nerves are irritated.

When you add a whitening agent to the mix, the active ingredients can go straight to the nerves and cause pain and, occasionally, more damage. 

If your sensitivity is due to serious problems (like a cracked tooth, progressive gum disease, or an exposed root), you should fix the issue before whitening your teeth. 

Otherwise, certain over-the-counter and professional whitening solutions are safe and effective for sensitive teeth.

Over-The-Counter Products

Whitening products and services make up a multi-billion dollar industry. Manufacturers across the globe offer various types of whiteners that will make your teeth dazzlingly bright. 

Teeth whitening treatments come in many styles, too: trays, strips, toothpastes, and even a teeth whitening pen you can draw on your enamel with. 

We’ll do just about anything to get white teeth, but it’s better if you go the safe route. Yet, teeth whiteners aren’t FDA-regulated, so their standards don’t apply. 

As you shop, keep in mind that many products you buy over the counter (or online on Amazon and other sites) haven’t gone through rigorous and objective clinical testing. 

The Best OTC Whiteners

Look for products that have an ADA seal of acceptance. This seal is the “gold standard” for dental care items. 

It means that the brand voluntarily submitted the ingredients, data, and other materials to the ADA, and the ADA agrees that the brand’s product is safe and effective. 

Other brands without the seal aren’t necessarily ineffective, but they haven’t submitted their information to the ADA to earn the seal.

Whitening Trays/Strips

Some of the most popular whitening kits are tray or strip products. With these kits, the user puts the gel in the tray — or peels the backing off the strip — and then applies the whitener to their teeth.

Currently, only Crest 3D White Whitestrips have the ADA seal of approval. But some brands that use hydrogen peroxide-based gels, like TrySnow, are also ADA-accepted.

TrySnow and other tray brands use LED lights to speed up the process. These lights help the peroxide break down and turn into free radicals, which whiten the teeth faster. The less time the chemicals are on your enamel, the safer the bleaching process becomes.

Read more: LED Whitening: Is It A Gimmick?

Whitening Toothpastes/Mouthwash

The shelves of your local pharmacy will stock various whitening toothpastes and mouthwash. 

Many of these are ADA-approved, including the first one, Colgate Optic Advanced White. Sensodyne, which helps relieve discomfort in sensitive teeth, also earned this seal of acceptance and has whitening products.

Whitening toothpaste, like all toothpaste, uses abrasives to remove stains off your teeth. However, abrasives like charcoal aren’t as gentle as ADA-approved toothpastes. The extra harshness can trigger increased sensitivity when you brush.

Another major drawback of OTC toothpaste and mouthwash is that they don’t have enough contact time with your teeth to really get in and do the job. 

The average teeth whitening strips and trays stay on the enamel for 10 minutes or longer. As you brush your teeth for a minute or two at a time, you use the toothbrush to spread the product. But then you swish with water and spit it out, which rinses the bleaching agent right off.

Whitening toothpaste and whitening mouthwash have lower concentrations of active ingredients, too. You’re not going to get the intensity of brightness you’d get using a professional-strength whitener. 

Pros and Cons of OTC Whiteners, per the ADA 

When you use these products to brush your teeth, they penetrate the enamel. This shouldn’t soften or thin the layers, but if you already have sensitive teeth, it can increase the discomfort.

Even with hardy teeth, OTC whiteners often bring temporary sensitivity and gum irritation to users. If you already have periodontal disease or very sensitive teeth, talk to your dentist before using at-home OTC whiteners.

Because OTC teeth whitening products must have low-grade chemical content to be safe, you might not get instant results and they’ll only address the surface stains. 

Using whiteners frequently can have long-term effects on your oral health, including causing more damage to the enamel than there already is. 

One last thing to remember: 

These products can be effective on natural teeth, but not restorations. Your crowns, veneers, and implants won’t change color, which may make them stand out from your newly whitened enamel.

Instead of opting for cheaper, less effective OTC products, many people with sensitive teeth look for safe but intensive professional whitening options.

In-Office Whitening Solutions

Dentist office concept, large decorative tooth supporting a mouth mirror

Cosmetic dentistry includes professional whitening treatment. If your dentist’s office offers this procedure — and you want high-impact results fast — consider making an appointment for an in-office whitening solution.

Professional whitening agents work so well because they use a high percentage of hydrogen peroxide. Unlike carbamide peroxide, the hydrogen counterpart breaks down and starts working instantly without needing another agent to begin the process.

What’s Involved in an In-Office Whitening Treatment?

Dental offices limit damage from the whiteners to the soft tissue by using equipment to cover your gums. As with the at-home LED light, your dentist will likely use a special, more intense light to speed up the absorption process. 

Since the professional method uses high-quality, high-grade whiteners and powerful equipment, you’ll pay more for this treatment. The average cost for a professional whitening treatment is $650. 

However, you should get the results you want after a visit or two.

How Long Do the Results Last?

Teeth whitening results are always temporary and depend mostly on how you take care of your smile after your treatment. 

If you avoid consuming things that stain the teeth, your professional whitening treatment results should last around a year.

Professional Mail-Order Whitening Kits

With professional teeth whitening kits, you get the benefits of an in-office whitening solution with the convenience of an at-home product. 

At JS Dental Lab, our mail-order whitening kit is customized to your teeth, making it easy and effective — even for sensitive users — to get a whiter smile.

Because the mouthpiece is designed to align with your enamel, you don’t have the spread of messy bleaching gel on your gums. This reduces soft tissue inflammation, which means less discomfort for you. And the higher-grade ingredients in the gel give you whiter teeth in one session.

How JS Dental’s Professional Kits Work

Our whitening kits work similarly to the night guards we’re famous for:

  1. You submit your order for a kit.
  2. Receive the impression mold and directions in the mail.
  3. Everything you need to make an impression of your teeth is in the kit, plus a pre-paid, pre-addressed return mailer. 
  4. Pop your impression in the mail.
  5. Our experts will send you your customized whitening tray and high-grade hydrogen peroxide-based whitener. 

Within a few days of your order, you’ll be working on getting the same level of dazzling white teeth you’d have from the dentist — without the hefty price tag.

Natural Whitening Agents

If you’re concerned that the peroxide in whitening products will irritate your sensitive teeth, there are other, natural options.

Take Good Care of Your Teeth

First, avoid things that stain the surface of your enamel, such as:

  • Dark sodas
  • Red wine
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Chocolate
  • Tobacco in any form 

Step up your oral care routine by brushing and flossing twice daily to strengthen your teeth and gums.

Your teeth won’t get whiter doing this, but they won’t worsen, either.

Read more: Routine Dental Care Checklist

Baking Soda and Charcoal

Besides avoiding staining products, you’ll see natural ways to whiten your teeth using baking soda or charcoal products. 

Both of these are extra abrasive, so they can irritate your sensitive teeth.

Coconut Oil

Coconut oil is a remedy frequented in the holistic health industry for teeth whitening. It breaks down plaque on the teeth and limits bacterial growth. 

It may reduce teeth sensitivity, but its effect on whitening teeth is unknown. 

Read more: Can You Use Essential Oils For Teeth Grinding?

Apple Cider Vinegar

The apple cider vinegar whitening trend is going around, too. This product might whiten your teeth

But it’s not a good idea. 

Apple cider vinegar has a pH of 3.075, and enamel begins to erode at a 5.5 pH. 

If you use too much of this ingredient — or drink a lot of any acidic beverage — your teeth will weaken. 

It’s not something someone with already sensitive teeth wants to chance.

Your Health Always Comes First

Keep in mind that some medical treatments lead to discolored teeth, such as:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • High blood pressure meds
  • Antipsychotics
  • Antibiotics

Don’t stop taking your medical treatments without talking to your doctor first. 

When You Should Never Use Whiteners

Digital illustration of a cracked tooth

All teeth whitening kits and products have one main thing in common:

They use a whitening agent to bleach your teeth.

You should never use a whitening agent without expert advice or guidance if you have a broken tooth or need professional care.

As a general rule, whitening products are safe. But anything used in the wrong situation can be damaging. 

The active ingredients in these kits go straight into the enamel. If your enamel isn’t protecting the pulp and nerves, that peroxide — and any cold or hot temperatures that hit it — will be painful.

When you fix dental problems early on, you save yourself a lot of pain and expense as the issues worsen. 

After that, you can focus on getting those brighter, whiter teeth.


The best teeth whitening solutions for people with sensitive teeth vary depending on your level of staining and why your teeth are hurting. Be wary of using any product in your mouth if you have serious damage to the nerves, gum, or tooth enamel.

Ready for a brighter smile without the discomfort of subpar whitening gels, kits, and expensive dental visits? Check out our custom whitening trays and start your path to a pearly white smile today. 

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