How to Protect Gums During Teeth Whitening

Your gums shouldn't have to suffer for your teeth to gleam.
Your gums shouldn't have to suffer for your teeth to gleam. (Image: Teeth and Mouth image by Sujit Mahapatra from

A bright smile can light up a room, but soft drinks, tobacco, coffee and tea can stain tooth enamel, leaving your teeth dull and discolored. To brighten stained enamel, you’ll need to use an at-home kit for several weeks or have your teeth professionally whitened at the dentist’s office. Regardless of which whitening method you choose, it’s important to protect your gums which can become easily irritated.

Things You'll Need

  • Tooth whitening kit
  • Protective gel or rubber guard (provided by dentist for in-office treatments)

Adhere whitening strips to your teeth only. The strips are affective because of the 10 percent carbamide peroxide whitening gel. But it can cause temporary sensitivity to your teeth and your gums. Once applied, if the top of the strip reaches above your gum line push it back down so that your gums are not exposed to the whitening agent.

Properly fit your whitening tray. Some whitening systems require you to apply a gel-filled tray to your top and bottom rows of teeth. A poorly fitting tray will inflame and irritate your soft gum tissue.

Apply protective gel or a rubber barrier if undergoing dental office whitening. Your dentist will provide you with these items to protect your gums from the whitening agent.

Tips & Warnings

  • Always consult with your dentist before using any over-the-counter whitening system.
  • If the treatments cause your gums to bleed, bruise or become irritated for more than a few days, stop the treatment and see your dentist immediately.

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