Whitening and Sensitivity

Best Whitening Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth


You want white teeth, I get it. But your teeth are also incredibly sensitive. You have tried whitening products on the market and they have made your teeth even more sensitive.

What are you supposed to do? In this article I will discuss the best whitening toothpastes for sensitive teeth. In no time at all, you will have the desired results you are looking for without the pain of sensitivity. More than 12% of people have tooth sensitivity and according to the American Dental Association (ADA), proper oral hygiene is key to reducing sensitivity. This is not a new problem but one many people do not know how to properly manage.

What is new, is the fact that people want whiter and whiter teeth in today’s world of appearances. But do not feel that you are all about vanity if you are one of these people desiring whiter teeth. According to research, people with whiter teeth are perceived as healthier, more trustworthy and more educated than those with darker teeth. All good reasons to want whiter teeth!

I have been practicing dental hygiene for the last 30 years and white teeth are at the forefront of my patients’ oral concerns. I will uncover what causes the sensitivity, what you can do to stop it and what options you have for gaining your pearliest whites ever.best-whitening-toothpaste-for-sensitive-teeth

What Causes the Sensitivity?

Teeth are made up of three main layers: the enamel layer which is the outer protective layer, the underlying dentin area surrounding the roots and the internal area of the tooth called the pulp. The inner dentin layer contains little channels or tubules that lead from the outside of the tooth to the internal pulp area.

According to the Academy of General Dentistry, there are thousands of these microscopic channels that lead to the pulp of the tooth. These tubules can allow cold, heat and acidic substances to reach the nerve which causes pain.

Normally the openings of these tubules are closed off. When something stimulates these tubules to open, a sensation is sent straight to the nerve of the tooth creating the sensitivity. The main reason why the openings of these tubules become open is due to receding gums (or gingival recession).

It is also possible that your teeth can become sensitive from enamel wear. This can be caused by using too stiff of a bristled brush or by using too much pressure when brushing. Both of these problems can be avoiding by using an electric toothbrush. Another reason these tubules become open is from poor oral hygiene. Plaque accumulation stimulates these tiny tubules to open which in turn sends the sensitivity signal to the nerve of the tooth.

Make It Stop Please!

If you deal with sensitive teeth, you definitely want it to end. It is not only uncomfortable but also annoying at best. Sensitive teeth can range from a chronic condition involving all of your teeth to a mild sensation affecting only one or more teeth. If you have tooth sensitivity, you are not alone. It is estimated that 1 in 8 people have some form of this common ailment.

It can feel like a sharp shooting pain or a persistent dull ache. Or, it can be felt when the area is touched or simply when air hits the area. This sensation is usually described as painful and short in duration. The response to a stimulus varies from one person to the next depending on their pain tolerance.

You do have options for treating this type of sensitivity. Please read a related article about tooth sensitivity to check out your options for relieving this condition.best-whitening-toothpaste-for-sensitive-teeth/dental hygienist

Before deciding to treat your sensitivity on your own, it is wise to first consult with your dental professional. This will rule out any issues that require treatment such as decay or infections. It is also important to have regular teeth cleanings to keep your teeth and gums in their best health.

In my experience with patients, I find that most people experience pain and sensitivity on a daily basis. For the most part, these same patients have been dealing with this uncomfortable feeling for quite some time. For some, many years!

Once you have determined that your sensitivity is not due to dental disease, you can safely take steps to whiten your teeth. Sensitive teeth are more of a challenge to whiten in general due to the level of comfort you are dealing with. Most whitening products available today will leave your teeth even more sensitive after you use them.

That is why it is especially important to use a whitening toothpaste that is specifically designed for sensitive teeth. These products will have an additional ingredient in them that will counteract the sensitivity you will get from the whitening agent.

What Are the Magic Ingredients?

There is more than one ingredient you can look for. These are potassium nitrate and stannous fluoride. An ideal product will include one of these active ingredients for maximum sensitivity relief.

Let’s look at how each of these products work to relieve sensitivity. First, we will look at potassium nitrate. Ions in potassium nitrate work to block the nerves in your teeth that send sensitivity messages such as hot and cold to your brain. It decreases the pain sensation by basically interrupting the transmission of the sensitivity signal. While hot and cold would still send a signal to your brain, the potassium nitrate prevents the pain signal from being felt. Therefore, you don’t feel anything.

Stannous Fluoride works by creating a protective layer on your teeth that blocks against stimuli (especially sharp, shooting sensations). This layer is referred to as the smear layer and it occludes the open tubules leading to the nerve of the tooth, thus, blocking the pain response. Fluoride also helps to strengthen your enamel and protect against cavities.

You need to be aware that most whitening toothpastes act only on surface stains. Using a professional product from your dentist or an over the counter whitening product for bleaching will reach the deeper stains in the enamel for more effective whitening.Dark teeth versus white teeth

Here Are Your Best Options…

Colgate Total Advanced Whitening Toothpaste

Colgate Total SF-Advanced Whitening

This product from Colgate has everything you want and need in one formula. The SF stands for stannous fluoride and there is the maximum amount present which helps relieve sensitivity. What is great about this product is the fact that it also has the capability of whitening by way of stain removal and prevention of future stains.

All the Colgate Total products are superior for their tartar control aspect. Dental professionals (including myself) recommend this product for tartar control more than any other toothpaste available today. Reduced tartar can also contribute to less sensitivity. Tartar and plaque actually conduct sensitivity so, by reducing these, you will automatically have less sensitivity.

Colgate Total SF-Advanced Whitening is a breakthrough formula that will not only clean your teeth but your whole mouth. The ingredient that whitens teeth is hydrated silica which is a mildly abrasive particle. It cleans the tongue, cheeks, teeth and gums all together for a complete whole mouth clean. All while whitening your teeth and reducing sensitivity. If you want one product that does it all, this is it!

The label states that it is aids in the prevention of cavities, helps interfere with the harmful effects of plaque associated with gingivitis and helps prevent gingivitis. In addition, Colgate Total SF-Advanced Whitening toothpaste builds increasing protection against sensitivity due to heat, cold, sweets, acids, or contact with twice daily brushing

Crest 3D Whitening Therapy toothpaste

Crest 3D Whitening Therapy Sensitivity Care

This is the latest addition to the Crest 3D White line of products. All the Crest 3D products are very popular for their whitening capabilities but are now even better with the inclusion of an anti-sensitivity ingredient. It has a different and also highly effective anti-sensitivity ingredient which is 5% potassium nitrate. This is the highest percentage of potassium nitrate allowed by the FDA.

The enamel-safe formula in Crest 3D Whitening Therapy Sensitivity Care protects your teeth while you brush while gently brightens and whitens your smile. This product also whitens by safely removing surface stains. It gives you cleaner, fresher and whiter teeth as it surrounds each tooth and lifts away impurities.

Crest 3D Whitening Therapy Sensitivity Care also contains minerals to fortify and nourish your enamel. The formula contains sodium fluoride so it is also good at preventing cavities.

Sensodyne Whitening Repair & Protect toothpaste

Sensodyne Whitening Repair and Protect

Sensodyne is the #1 sensitive toothpaste recommended by dental professionals. They have a wide variety of toothpastes to treat sensitive teeth. This company has the least amount of abrasive particles compared to other whitening products. You may not think this matters much. However, you can cause real damage if you are using an abrasive toothpaste twice a day for an extended period. Here is a video from Sensodyne:

It is wise to use a product with a low relative dental abrasivity (RDA) which is a measure used to determine how damaging a product may be. According to the ADA, (American Dental Association) all toothpastes need to have a certain value in order to be considered low abrasive.

In general, the number on the scale is relative to a standard number which is 100. All toothpastes are considered effective and safe if their number is at or below 2.5 times this number (at or below 250). They state that if you are using a toothpaste with an RDA of 250 or less and using proper technique when brushing, you will have very minor damage to dentin or enamel.

You can be assured that this product has low abrasiveness. Sensodyne Whitening Repair and Protect has a reading of 104. In comparison, Colgate Whitening toothpaste has a reading of 124 and Crest Sensitivity Protection toothpaste is 107. These are all low readings compared to the upper limit of 250.

Sensodyne Whitening Repair and Protect toothpaste contains silica to remove stains and whiten teeth. In addition, it provides lasting relief as stannous fluoride binds to exposed dentin and helps to repair vulnerable areas of the teeth.

Opalescence Whitening toothpaste

Opalescence Whitening Toothpaste-Sensitivity Relief

This product is developed by a dentist and is a favorite of dental professionals. The Opalescence brand is commonly recommended through dental distributors. Opalescence Whitening Toothpaste-Sensitivity Relief has added 5% potassium nitrate to their product as a way to combat the sensitivity many patients experience when whitening their teeth. It has sodium fluoride to prevent decay and has a unique formula for increased fluoride uptake.

In addition, Opalescence has a bleaching kit that many dental professionals recommend for safe and effective whitening of teeth. The concentration of active carbamide peroxide is much higher than most and is therefore more effective than other over the counter brands. It is available to purchase through dental distributors along with Opalescence Whitening Toothpaste-Sensitivity Relief. In addition, these products are now available over the counter and can be purchased on Amazon.

This Opalescence whitening toothpaste effectively removes surface stains and lightens discoloration caused by food, coffee, tobacco, aging and other sources. This product can lighten your teeth up to two shades in one month. Most whitening toothpastes are not recommended for long-term use due to their abrasiveness. However, this unique formula is gentle enough for everyday use and is still strong enough to whiten teeth by removing surface stains. Its RDA is 90 which is even lower than the aforementioned Sensodyne Whitening Repair and Protect toothpaste.

Dentist working on patient with sensitive teethThe Takeaway…

It is now possible to use a whitening toothpaste for those of you with sensitive teeth. Up until now, these products did not exist. You need to be extra careful when choosing the right product as the wrong choice will leave you with more sensitivity and could possibly damage your enamel. Please be sure to schedule regular routine visits to your dental health professional.

I recommend each of the products in this article as safe and gentle whitening toothpastes with the added benefit of sensitivity relief. Please thoroughly consider which product is right for you. Too many of the products available today can be too abrasive to your teeth and cause unnecessary wear. Remember, when your enamel is gone, it is gone and you cannot get it back. Therefore, choose a product that is low in abrasivity to use on a consistent basis.

With the right toothpaste, an electric toothbrush and an oral irrigator, you will have the best tools in your tool box for optimal oral health. Please share your questions and comments below.

Medical Disclaimer:

The information that I provide on my website is not intended to take the place of medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Care and investigation should always be sought from an appropriate health care provider. I am not a doctor and do not claim to be one. I have created this site as a way to share information and experiences.


  1. Juliet

    Wow,  dental health is one area of health that is so important. I’ve always looked forward to good whitening toothpastes but upon going through your article, I found a choice of what to get. Again, your site is unique and good. I also liked the fact that you added videos to the article. I enjoyed watching every bit of it. Thumbs up!

    1. Michelle Mussehl, RDH


      I appreciate your review of ‘Best Whitening Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth’ and for your comments. Please refer to a related article on how important your oral health is to your overall health. I am glad you have found one that may work for you. Everyone is unique, so what works the best for one person may not work the best for another. Thanks for your input,


  2. Lee

    I have found that the teeth most sensitive in my mouth are the ones that have had some type of work done on them in the past. So I attribute sensitivity to that for the most part. I brush with and use Sensodyne and I am very happy with that brand. I use it daily with flossing and I rinse with Therabreath and I haven’t had many problems the last couple of years. I always go for a professional cleaning once every 6 months. This is all very important the older you get because your body doesn’t replace them in your old age. So, I agree with your recommendation for Sensodyne.

    1. Michelle Mussehl, RDH


      You are correct, dental health is very important. I am glad to hear that you have regular dental care. I wonder if the teeth that have been worked on in the past may have receding gum tissue. Your dental professional can explain how receding gums exposes the sensitive root structure of your teeth. Sensodyne is designed for this type of sensitivity. You can learn more about gum recession (causes and treatment) in this article.

      Thanks for commenting,


  3. Neil Brown

    I thank you for sharing this information. Recently I have had discomfort with my teeth and scheduled an appointment with the dentist. Two days before I was able to get in, a major portion of my tooth broke off. Turns out that I have four cavities, a lot of plaque that needs to be cleaned off and this is the first dentist appointment in almost twenty years.

    This article came at the perfect time because after I have my teeth fixed and cleaned I will definitely want to keep my teeth as white as possible, especially being a big coffee drinker that I am and Sensodyne sounds like the perfect match.

    1. Michelle Mussehl, RDH


      I am so glad to hear that you are having your dental issues addressed. Many people who do not routinely visit the dentist are not aware that they have dental issues. This is especially true if there is no pain involved. I encourage you to continue with regular dental care. Sensodyne is a trusted brand and is highly recommended by dental professionals. Good luck!


  4. Perryline

    Great and amazing article. Using the wrong toothpaste has affected my teeth in many ways. This was so bad that it lead to me having tooth decay. I got so worried and tried making use of so many other toothpastes but haven’t found the best yet. Please, I really do want to know which of these toothpastes works the best. Thank you.

    1. Michelle Mussehl, RDH


      I am sorry to hear you are having trouble finding the right product for yourself. All of the products in this article will work amazingly. What it will come down to is a personal preference. For example, one may have a better taste or texture than another. They each have the same beneficial qualities for helping to whiten teeth along with improving sensitivity. There is fluoride in each of the products mentioned and this is a good thing for yourself especially if you have dealt with dental decay in the past.

      Thanks for your comment,


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