Part 1Taking Preventative Measures Before Treatment
- Brush with a desensitizing toothpaste. At least 10 days before your treatment, start brushing three times a day with a desensitizing toothpaste. Sensodyne and Colgate Sensitive are two good options. These toothpastes help to block pain signals from the tooth surface to the inner nerve.
- Look for GC Tooth Mousse, which has an active ingredient called CPP ACP that works very well to remineralize enamel.
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to rub the toothpaste into the teeth in a circular motion (not back and forth). Ideally, you should brush your teeth for three minutes each session.
- Fluoride and desensitizing agents work even better if you do not rinse your mouth right away. Leave the toothpaste to act on your teeth for another three minutes before rinsing.
- Apply a desensitizing gel, liquid, or paste. Wipe your teeth so that they are dry. Then get a clean cotton swab. Place a large dot of the product on the tip of the swab and rub it onto the surface of your teeth. Leave the product on your teeth for the recommended length of time before rinsing your mouth out with water.
- These products usually contain potassium nitrate, which numbs the nerves in the teeth, limiting sensitivity. Two good products include AcquaSeal and Ultra EZ which can be purchased at the drugstore. You can also use them both before and after your whitening treatment.
- Fill the whitening tray with desensitizing gel. About 30 minutes before your treatment, fill the tray with a desensitizing gel and place it on your teeth. When you are ready to begin your treatment simply take out the tray, rinse it out, and refill it with the bleaching agent. You will also want to rinse out your mouth to remove any gel residue.
- Make sure the whitening tray fits properly — it should only cover your teeth, not your gums. If it reaches the gums, some of the whitening agent could come in contact with them, causing increased sensitivity or even slight burns, which can be seen as a white contour along the gum line.
- Take pain medication before your treatment. About an hour before treatment take the suggested dosage of an anti-inflammatory medication, such as Advil or Aleve. Taking the medication this early allows it to kick in and start working before your procedure. You can continue the medication after the treatment, should you experience any lingering sensitivity.
- If you are unsure as to what medications to take, ask your dentist for a recommendation. In general ibuprofen works well on all types of teeth sensitivity.
Part 2Managing Discomfort During Treatment
- Choose an at-home whitening treatment kit. Most at-home teeth whitening kits use carbamide peroxide as the main bleaching ingredient. Peroxide is effective, but it can irritate the nerve endings of your teeth and cause sensitivity. Choose an in-home kit that contains a low peroxide level of 5 – 6%. A higher peroxide dose will not guarantee effectiveness and might cause a great deal of pain.
- There are a wide variety of at-home whitening options: strips, paint-ons, mouth trays with gel, whitening toothpaste, and even whitening gum and mouthwash. If you have any concerns about the safety of these products, ask your dentist.
- If you do choose a tray-based whitening method, make sure that the tray fits securely over your teeth. If it is loose the gel can leak out and create widespread gum irritation and increased sensitivity.
- Apply the recommended amount of whitening agent and no more. It may be tempting to use more gel to get quicker, whiter results. Don’t do it. Instead, follow the directions carefully and make the health of your mouth the priority. Using too much agent can cause gum irritation and even vomiting if swallowed.
- Leave the whitening product on for the suggested time. Extending the time beyond the package recommendations will not make your teeth any brighter or whiter. It will, however, possibly erode your tooth enamel, causing future issues with sensitivity and decay caused by fractures in the enamel.
- The recommended length of time will generally depend on the percentage of active peroxide, which varies from product to product.