Teeth Pain After Whitening: How To Reduce It

Whitening can make your teeth hurt with braces or without. Learn about what causes this pain and how you can ward it off next time you work towards the perfect shining smile.

8 min readTeeth Pain After Whitening: How To Reduce It

Are you wondering why your teeth are hurting after a whitening procedure? This is one of the most common teeth-whitening side effects. Many of the chemicals used in teeth whitening are strong enough to penetrate through to the inner tooth, causing dentin hypersensitivity.

The pain will differ from person to person, depending on factors like how often they whiten and the sensitivity of their teeth. Fortunately, there are a few ways to reduce or even prevent pain after your next whitening session.

Reasons Your Teeth Hurt After Whitening

If you experience discomfort or pain after whitening your teeth, don't panic. This is a perfectly normal reaction caused by the whitening chemicals irritating your tooth enamel.

The sensitivity usually goes away after a few days, but it can be uncomfortable in the meantime. Let's take a look at the specific reasons why your teeth may hurt after whitening.

Thin Enamel

It may surprise you to learn that tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body. There's a very good reason for this; it's the protective outer layer of your teeth, and its job is to keep bacteria and other substances away from the sensitive inner layers.

Think of the environments and elements your teeth are subjected to every day. You might drink an icy cold beverage one minute, then the next, you're biting into a burning hot meal. That's why enamel is designed to be very tough and can resist temperature changes.

However, thin or weakened enamel can be more susceptible to the chemicals used in whitening treatments.

Unlike bone, enamel does not remodel after deterioration, making teeth whitening safety and other oral hygiene practices vital. If it's weakened, it won't be able to adequately protect the underlying dentin from tooth-whitening chemicals like hydrogen peroxide.

Ingredients In Whitening Solutions

The most common ingredient in teeth whitening products is hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. Carbamide peroxide is a fancy name for a chemical that breaks down into hydrogen peroxide when it comes into contact with water. So, when you use a teeth whitening product that contains carbamide peroxide, it's basically the same thing as using hydrogen peroxide.

Hydrogen peroxide and other whitening agents can react with the organic compounds found in stains to lighten the color of your tooth.

However, if your tooth enamel isn't thick enough or your whitening products are too strong, the chemicals can penetrate through your enamel and into the dentin. This can cause quite intense pain and sensitivity.

The chemicals used during in-office whitening procedures are significantly more potent than those in at-home teeth whitening, sometimes reaching 40% hydrogen peroxide. Studies have shown that these more intense solutions result in tooth sensitivity every single time.

This means you shouldn’t be too worried if your teeth start to hurt. In fact, you should prepare for it as an inevitability.

Wrong Procedure

When it comes to teeth whitening options, there are lots to choose from. In-office whitening procedures include professional bleaching and laser whitening, while at-home whitening methods include whitening strips, gels, and kinds of toothpaste.

If you’re looking for something a little gentler, there are natural teeth-whiting solutions that you can try. Dentists can also give you a custom-made tray with a whitening solution that you can use at home.

Each of these procedures has its own set of rules and instructions. It's important to follow them carefully, or else the procedure may not be successful or lead to more pain and sensitivity.

For instance, if you leave a professional bleaching treatment on your teeth for too long, the chemicals can penetrate through your enamel and into the dentin, causing pain and discomfort.

How Can I Prevent Tooth-Whitening Pain?

There are so many things that can lead to having your teeth hurt with braces, clenching, and more, especially if you're trying to achieve a bright white smile. However, pain from tooth-whitening can at least be prevented.

Switch To Desensitizing Toothpaste

A relatively inexpensive way to prevent tooth sensitivity is by switching to desensitizing toothpaste. Studies have found that ingredients commonly used in desensitizing toothpastes, like potassium and stannous fluoride, can help to significantly ease symptoms associated with dentin hypersensitivity.

Using these kinds of toothpaste leading up to your whitening treatment and during the days after will help you avoid the pain. It also helps to increase and extend the benefits of white teeth.

Apply ACP Gel

If you expect that you’ll have an issue with sensitivity, you might want to get your hands on an ACP gel. The active ingredient in this gel is amorphous calcium phosphate, which helps to restore your enamel and prevent sensitivity going forward.

ACP gel can be applied using a brush or a tray and can be used multiple times throughout the day to relieve any pain. If sensitivity is particularly bad, you can ask your dentist about a fluoride varnish, which has the same effect. This varnish can last up to eight weeks.

Take Medicine

If you suspect that your teeth will be sensitive during or after your teeth whitening procedure, you can plan ahead and take pain medication. Ibuprofen is a great option, but similar over-the-counter medicines will work as well.

If you still have sensitivity after your procedure, you can always take more. Make sure you read the label carefully and don’t overdo it.

How To Deal With Teeth Whitening Pain After Treatment

Even with all this preparation, you are likely to have some pain after your teeth whitening. If you’re still noticing pain post-treatment, here are some things that can help stop teeth sensitivity in its tracks.

Wait To Brush

Your dentist will likely tell you not to brush your teeth for a set amount of time after getting them whitened. If you are using at-home whitening methods, you’ll still want to avoid brushing your teeth for at least a few hours.

This allows your teeth time to rest. The dentin inflammation caused by exposure to chemicals will fade over time, but rigorous brushing may cause it to continue.

Avoid Hot And Cold Drinks

Even as your sensitivity starts to fade, overly hot or cold drinks are likely to cause pain. If you can, try opting for room-temperature drinks to avoid flares of discomfort.

Because dentin contains nerve endings, these extreme temperatures will aggravate your teeth. The more irritation you cause, the longer it will take for the sensitivity to die down.

Keep Taking Medicine And Using ACP Gel

If the pain is persisting for a few days, you can continue to take medication and apply your ACP gel. Both of these will provide relief while your teeth return to normal.

The ACP gel is particularly effective because it helps the teeth to remineralize. This process of repairing the damage can help lessen pain and bolster your tooth enamel against further damage.

If you are still experiencing sensitivity a few days after whitening, make sure to speak with your dentist about what could be causing it. In some cases, there may be underlying issues that need to be addressed for you to fully recover from your treatment.

If you’re still wondering about how whitening will affect your teeth sensitivity, we’ve got your back. Here are a few common questions about the pain after whitening.

Is It Normal For Teeth To Hurt After Whitening?

Yes, it’s very common for teeth to be overly sensitive and hurt after a whitening treatment. However, this pain is temporary and should fade after a few days.

If the pain persists for more than a few days, you should visit your dentist and get a professional opinion. He or she will be able to identify any underlying issues that might be causing the sensitivity.

How Long Will My Teeth Hurt After Whitening?

People usually experience pain and sensitivity for a few days after a whiting procedure. However, depending on your situation, it may last several months.

It is important to remember that pain and discomfort are normal after whitening, but if it’s severe or lasts for more than a few days, you should consult your dentist.

Should I Stop Teeth Whitening If It Hurts?

If the pain is unbearable, you should avoid any further treatments until you can visit your dentist. However, if the discomfort is only mild and tolerable, it’s okay to continue with the treatment as long as you don’t overdo it.

In the majority of cases, a few days of rest are all your teeth need to return to whitening. You will still be able to achieve the same results, but listening to your body will get you that shiny smile without any lasting damage.

It is important to remember that teeth whitening can cause serious problems if done too often or incorrectly. If in doubt, speak to your dentist about what kind of whitening process is right for you.

The Bottom Line

If you’re experiencing sensitivity and pain after a tooth whitening procedure, don’t fret. It’s only temporary and should clear up within a few days.

This kind of pain is common, but with a little bit of foresight, you can stop teeth sensitivity with ease. No one should miss out on the benefits of white teeth because of fear of pain.