OUCH Does Tooth Whitening hurt? HELP Is Tooth Whitening Unhealthy?  

By: Dr. Rebecca Koenigsberg

Does whitening hurt? Sometimes! Is it unhealthy? Not when used properly!

Read on! I will explain how bleach works and some tricks to help with sensitivity. Whitening is an easy, non-invasive way to make your smile feel more beautiful.  The major drawbacks are cost and fear of sensitivity.

Why do teeth get stained anyway?

Tooth enamel (the outer surface) becomes stained from certain drinks, food or smoke. Bleach only lightens the color of the inside tooth layer, not the outside layer. That’s why it is important to have your teeth professionally polished before whitening! By whitening the inner tooth layer, the color that’s reflected through the outer enamel of your teeth is lighter, making the whole tooth look whiter.

Sensitivity can happen during or after whitening.

When gums recede the tooth’s root becomes exposed and it is unprotected by an armor of strong enamel. When the whitening gel touches the root, your nerves let you know it!

If using over the counter whitening strips, this can be hard to avoid since they slide around. The best tip I can give you is to brush with Sensodyne toothpaste before a whitening procedure, which makes the roots less sensitive. You can buy Sesodyne at any drugstore

Using custom whitening trays made for you by your dentist.

It is easier to avoid sensitivity when using custom whitening trays made by your dentist, because you can control the amount of gel and where it goes. You can put the tiniest dot of gel possible into each tooth. You only need part of the tooth to be coated in gel to whiten you don’t have to touch the entire tooth with gel.


  1. Did you know that if you wear clear aligner retainers for clenching, bruxism or as a retainer; you can put whitening gel right into them? Check with your dentist if you have a set.
  2. Put Sensodyne on your gums in sensitive areas for a minute before you whiten.
  3. Always check with your dentist before you whiten and make sure you’re doing it correctly! (watch our video on how to use your at-home whitening tray )

Call 212.246.8700 to find out more information or click here to schedule an appointment with Gallery57Dental. Follow Gallery 57 Dental on Facebook here!

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