How to protect gums during teeth whitening

Updated April 17, 2017

A bright smile can light up a room, but soft drinks, tobacco, coffee and tea can stain tooth enamel, leaving your teeth dull and discoloured. 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.

Adhere whitening strips to your teeth only. The strips are affective because of the 10 per cent 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.


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.

Things You'll Need

  • Tooth whitening kit
  • Protective gel or rubber guard (provided by dentist for in-office treatments)
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article

About the Author

Christina Bednarz Schnell began writing full-time in 2010. Her areas of expertise include child development and behavior, medical conditions and pet health. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in international relations.