How to Protect Your Gums During Teeth Whitening

Lots of people decide to whiten their teeth so they can achieve a more radiant smile and look even better on their Facebook photos. But while the teeth whitening process is pretty common these days, lots of folks accidentally expose their gums to bleaching agents that can lead to long-term damage or, at the very least, short-term discomfort.

You’ll need to apply over-the-counter whitening products continually for as long as you want whiter teeth. So learning how to protect your gums during teeth whitening is really important if you want to achieve a whiter smile for the future.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the best ways to protect your gums while using whitening strips, trays, or other tools.

Why Can Your Gums be Hurt from Teeth Whitening? 

Whilegum sensitivity can happen if you get your teeth whitened professionally at a dental office, most people accidentally hurt their gums only if they decide to whiten their own teeth. Specifically, they irritate their gums when using peroxide teeth whitening agent like whitening strips.

Whitening toothpastes don’t normally have whitening agents and instead brighten your teeth by more aggressively scrubbing away stains.

In a nutshell, bleaching whitening products contain either hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide. These compounds are great for burning away stains on the surfaces of your teeth, which don't have nerve endings (although the insides of your teeth certainly do!). However, if the bleaching agent is accidentally rubbed onto your gums, you could burn the gums and cause severe gum irritation or inflammation. Fortunately our solutions, like our special extreme kit, are more natural and don't irritate gums, 

As with most home-use products,gum irritation from whitening often occurs due to user error or because folks don’t take the proper precautions when using whitening strips. But this also means avoiding gum pain is easy with the right preparation!

Do All Whitening Methods Cause Gum Damage?

No. Some teeth whitening methods, like certain types of dentist-performed bleaching sessions and some gentler tooth whitening products, don’t have the same risks for gum damage. You really only need to concern yourself with this if you plan to use whitening strips or trays consistently over the next few months.

Each time you expose your gums to the powerful peroxide bleaching agents contained in most OTC whitening tools, you risk further damage and greater gum irritation. The longer you go without correcting the problem, the more your gums are likely to turn red, accrue breaks in their tissue, and develop serious dental issues like gingivitis and gum disease.

Ultimately, it’s just smart to know how toavoid hurting your gums while you whiten your teeth. Who wants to feel uncomfortable or in pain in the pursuit of a brighter smile?

Ways to Protect Your Gums During Teeth Whitening

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to protect your gums if you want to whiten your teeth and improve the look of your smile. Let’s break those methods down one by one.

If Necessary, Use a Custom-Fitted Tray

The best thing to do is to use a custom-fitted tray if applicable. We'd always recommend checking with a dentist before using any whitening products,even our own. That’s just because the dentist can recommend the best whitening or bleaching treatment for your teeth and their unique shape and sensitivity.

A custom-fitted whitening tray is essentially a small retainer you set onto your teeth. If it fits perfectly, only your teeth will come into contact with the bleaching agent, leaving your gums undisturbed. Dentists are theonly ones who can make custom trays.

Remember to Trim Whitening Strips

If you decide to use regular over-the-counter whitening strips, be sure to trim the strips so they fit your teeth. Most commercial whitening strips are larger than your teeth since they’re designed to fit the largest teeth possible in a “one-size-fits-all” sort of way. But this can accidentally cause the bleached part of the strips to contact your gums, which can cause gum and tooth sensitivity and pain.

Just hold the teeth whitening strips up to your teeth and estimate how well they seem to fit. You can use a sharp pair of scissors to get rid of any excess material. This isn’t a problem since whitening strips are disposable and are meant to be thrown away after being used.

Consider Using a Desensitizing Gel

You can alternatively use a desensitizing gel by applying the whitening gel to your gums immediately prior to whitening your teeth. A desensitizing gel essentially puts your nerves to sleep, meaning they shouldn’t feel any irritation or pain even if they get burned from the bleaching product.

This being said, this doesn’t actuallyprotect during teeth whitening. All it does is protect you from the effects. You might still feel gum irritation or inflammation once the desensitizing gel wears off. We’d again recommend talking to your dentist before going with this route since long-term exposure to a whitening agent could lead to gum disease or permanent damage.

It's more often a better idea to use a desensitizing gel as an extra measure, then still take other steps to make sure that bleaching agents don't contact your gums at all.

Get Rid of Excess Gel or Bleach

When you apply whitening gel or bleach to your gums, be sure to remove any excess gel as you see it. You can just take a soft tissue or similarly soft cloth and wipe away any excess gel from your gums. While you probably won’t be able to avoid a little bit of burning or tingling, it stops the gel or bleach from contacting your gums over an extended period.

This, in turn, limits the damage that can occur. Consider using a cotton swab or cue-tip instead of tissue paper if you want to be really precise. This is a great tool to combine with ourwhitening pen, although like all of Dr. Brite’s teeth whitening products, it’s designed specifically to not irritate your gums or teeth. It uses only natural ingredients and is totally free of parabens, sulfates, and other harsh compounds.

Don’t Leave the Strips On for Too Long

Lots of folks new to using over-the-counter whitening products like strips or trays are disheartened upon realizing that it takes multiple applications for their teeth to turn noticeably whiter. This may lead them to leave the strips on or the trays in for much longer than recommended.

This is a problem. By over-bleaching your teeth, you could lead to long-term dental problems later down the road. Furthermore, this leads to more opportunities for the bleaching agent to accidentally spread to your gums, which can damage them.

Never leave strips on or bleaching trays in for too long in an attempt to over-bleach your teeth. You should only ever use a teeth whitening product exactly as directed, or else use whitening products that don’t cause tooth and gum sensitivity.


All in all, protecting your gums during dental professional teeth whitening is pretty intensive, which speaks to the power of many whitening products. But there’s an easier way to whiten your teeth without so much discomfort.

For instance, check out ourExtreme Whitening Kit. This affordable collection of tooth whitening products comes with whitening toothpaste, a whitening tray, whitening syringes, and whitening pens all in the same purchase. Best of all, each of these whitening tools uses natural ingredients and doesn't rely on overly harsh bleaching chemicals.

While you still have to use everything in the kit correctly, these products are designed to not damage your gums or teeth. TryDr. Brite’s whitening solutions if you want a more bright smile without many of the potential side effects.


1. Can teeth whitening damage your gums?

Whitening kits contain chemicals that can harm your sensitive teeth and gums. The harm caused by teeth whitening is usually transient.

2. Do gums grow back after teeth whitening?

People are frequently frightened when they see their sensitive gums after exposure to a high concentration of hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide, but the gum tissue soon returns to normal.

3. How do I heal my gums from bleaching?

Don't ignore the burning if it persists on your irritated gums. Swish your tongue with warm seawater to remove any bleaching product residue. Good news is that gum sensitivity usually subsides within a few days of stopping the whitening treatment.

4. How long will my gums stay white after teeth whitening?

Gels used to whiten teeth can cause a chemical burn to the soft tissues of the mouth, similar to a sunburn. Following a chemical burn, the affected area becomes slightly inflamed and turns white. The tissue will return to normal within 24 hours.

5. Can whitening strips turn your gums white?

If you don't supervise yourself while using whitening strips, you could burn your gums or develop white spots on your burned gums. If swallowed, bleaching agents can irritate the throat and cause nausea or stomach discomfort.

6. What is the safest teeth whitening method?

The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) advises using custom-fitted trays provided by your dentist for the most secure and efficient at-home teeth whitening procedure. The gel in improperly fitting teeth whitening trays may flow out and irritate your gums.

7. How can I whiten my teeth without damaging my gums?

If you brush your teeth softly and with care, baking soda can remove surface stains from your teeth without harming them. You can also use whitening strips to whiten your teeth. Whitening strips conform to the shape of your teeth and they are secure and efficient.