Sensitive Teeth: Can You Still Whiten Your Tooth Enamel?

If you have sensitive tooth enamel and want to whiten your teeth in the upcoming months, you may wonder what you can do to reduce the irritation. Although tooth sensitivity can create some issues with tooth whitening, you can minimize your discomfort by using a softer toothbrush. A firmer or medium-textured toothbrush may increase the erosion in your enamel. Here's what you should know about your sensitive teeth and using the wrong toothbrush, and what you can do to minimize your discomfort before your whitening treatment.

How Can the Wrong Toothbrush Harm Your Enamel?

Over time, tooth enamel can wear down or erode. Erosion can occur from the natural aging process, or it can develop from eating too many acidic or sweetened foods and beverages. It's also possible to experience tooth erosion when you use an abrasive toothbrush. Like the other problems mentioned above, an abrasive toothbrush may potentially increase the sensitivity in your enamel during the whitening process.

Toothbrushes with medium to firm toothbrush bristles can eventually expose or affect the dentin in your tooth crowns. Dentin consists of tiny pores, or openings, that lead to the nerves inside your teeth. Because whitening chemicals and gels can potentially penetrate these pores to remove stains, they may irritate your enamel more if it does have problems like erosion.

You can take steps to minimize your tooth sensitivity with the right tips.

What Can You Do to Minimize Your Sensitivity?

The first thing you might do is purchase and use a toothbrush with soft bristles. Softer bristles can be gentler, more effective tools to clean your teeth without scratching or wearing down your enamel. You may want to purchase nonabrasive toothpaste as well. Your toothpaste should be free of scrubbing beads, which can further damage your enamel. 

Also, use light, gentle strokes to clean your teeth. Unless you have tartar buildup, or hard plaque, the plaque on your teeth is soft enough to remove without using force. You can use floss to remove the plaque hiding between your teeth. 

You can also try drinking your beverages and eating your food at room temperature to minimize sensitivity in your enamel. It's also a good idea that you avoid foods and drinks with acids and sugars until after your whitening treatment. If you still wish to eat or drink things like these, rinse your mouth with warm water afterward. It can cut down the sugar and acid content on your teeth.

If you're still concerned about your tooth sensitivity, consult with a cosmetic dentist for information, or visit websites like