I have sensitive teeth. I have heard and read that teeth whitening can be quite painful. What is the best option for teeth whitening ideally on a permanent basis, instead of having an application that needs to be reapplied?

Expert Answer


You will need to get your sensitive teeth looked after before you go near tooth whitening. Tooth sensitivity is usually caused by a number of factors that can be fairly easily modified.


Make out a daily chart for a week and count the number of daily intakes of sweetened tea, coffee and other beverages including soft drinks, fruit juices and sports drinks. If your daily intake including meal times is more than six a day you are at risk of tooth sensitivity, dental erosion and dental decay.


Your chances of having dental erosion and dental sensitivity are increased further if you brush your teeth at the wrong times. Brushing immediately after consuming food or beverages may cause excessive loss of tooth enamel as it is softened temporarily by acidity in the saliva.


This corrects itself after 30 minutes and the tooth rehardens naturally and brushing may be carried out without complications. The vulnerable areas are near the gum margin where the enamel layer is thinnest. You can help to reharden the enamel and block the sensitivity by placing a smear of desensitising toothpaste around the necks of the sensitive teeth. It can also be helpful to wear a mouth guard containing desensitising paste for a few weeks to help reduce or eliminate the sensitivity.


When the sensitivity is no longer a problem go to your dentist and discuss which teeth whitening option would be best for you. It is highly recommended that you use a low dose hydrogen peroxide or its derivative for at least two hours a day for two to three weeks at home using a specially made mouth guard. Unfortunately, there is no easy solution to maintaining the desired level of whiteness.


If you want to have a more permanent white colour you might like to consider having veneers. There are advantages and disadvantages to each treatment option. For more information on tooth whitening go to the DeCare Dental Insurance Ireland website at and look for the oral health tip about teeth whitening under the oral health information section.


Dr. Gerard Gavin, Vhi DeCare Dental

Remember your dental health is important for your overall health. Eat a Balanced Healthy Diet, Brush and Floss daily, and visit your dentist regularly.

9th February 2011