Having a bright, white smile is something everybody wants. White teeth are more fun to smile with, and they make us look healthier, happier, and younger. However, not everyone is born with naturally white teeth. And some people may even experience tooth discoloration due to age, genetics, or lifestyle factors (such as smoking or drinking red wine.) When that happens, one solution to consider is teeth whitening. Whitening—especially professional teeth whitening in South Gate, CA—provides dramatic results. However, what happens if you have a dental crown? Can you still whiten your teeth?
At Reza Dental Care, we work closely with our clients who have existing dental work in their “smile zone” because those materials respond differently to whitening gels than natural tooth enamel does.
Is it Possible to Bleach a Dental Crown?
The short answer is no; it is not possible to bleach a dental crown. Dental crowns, also known as caps, are protective covers that are used to reinforce damaged or severely worn teeth. They are typically made from porcelain, ceramics, or other materials that do not change color. Rather, those ceramics retain their natural shade for the duration of the treatment. As a result, no amount of whitening gel will work on dental crowns (or restorations like veneers and fillings, for that matter.)
Why Teeth Whitening Gel Doesn’t Work on Crowns, Fillings
As mentioned earlier, dental crowns are always made from solid materials such as porcelain and ceramics. These materials are known for their durability and natural appearance, but they also have a downside: they won’t change color, no matter how strong the bleaching gel is. Consider a white ceramic coffee mug. If you set it into a sink full of warm water with bleach, it won’t bleach the ceramic into a lighter color. However, that same liquid would likely bleach out other materials, such as plastic or a piece of fabric. Your other dental restorations, such as fillings and bridges, are also made from materials that won’t change color, making them resistant to whitening treatments.
When you visit Reza Dental Care to discuss having your teeth whitened, our South Gate dentist will need to evaluate the teeth in your “smile zone” beforehand. One of the reasons why is that we need to assess whether or not there are any restorations in those teeth, among other things (like screening for gum disease.) If you were to apply teeth whitening gel, it would simply bleach the tooth enamel around your dental work. The end result? Dark-colored crowns stand out from the rest of your other teeth, detracting from your smile and drawing a lot of unwanted attention.
How to Handle Stains on Crowns or “Caps”
The only way to whiten an existing dental crown is to have it updated in a brighter color to match your adjacent teeth. You’ll want to do this after you whiten your teeth so that the shades are the same.
If you have a dental crown and you notice staining or discoloration, there are a few things you can do to handle it. One option is to speak with our South Gate dentist about replacing the crown. Another option is to have the crown cleaned by our dentist or dental hygienist during your routine checkup. We will use special instruments to remove stains from your crown to help restore a brighter appearance. Keep in mind that only the surface stains are removed, and polishing a crown won’t change the color of the restoration altogether.
Since crowns do age over time, you might start to notice some staining around the edges or margins of your cap. We’ll routinely monitor the integrity of your restoration to let you know when or if it’s time to have your crown changed out with a new one.
When to Whiten Your Teeth if You Have Crowns
If you’re considering getting a dental crown and you’re also interested in whitening your teeth, it’s best to whiten your teeth just before getting the crown or right before having it replaced. This is because the material used to make the crown can be matched to the new color of your teeth so that everything blends in correctly.
In instances where you have a tooth that needs a crown but there’s an active cavity or crack, our South Gate dentist can help fit you with a temporary restoration to protect the tooth while you whiten the others. Otherwise, the whitening gel could cause severe irritation or damage to the broken tooth.
However, if you already have a crown and you’re looking to whiten your teeth, it’s important to keep in mind that the crown will not change color. If you’re set on whitening your teeth, you’ll need to change out the crown to match (that is, unless it’s a back tooth that isn’t visible when you smile.)
What to Do if Other Teeth are Stained
If you have dental restorations like crowns, fillings, or bridges that are resistant to whitening treatments, there are still options available to consider. One option is to speak with your dentist about using over-the-counter whitening gels or whitening pens on specific problem spots. These products may not be as effective as professional teeth whitening, but they can help to improve the appearance of specific teeth that are visible when you smile. Another option is to have your teeth professionally cleaned by one of our dental hygienists. This can help to remove surface stains and improve the appearance of your neighboring teeth.
In conclusion, if you have a dental crown, it’s important to understand that it cannot be whitened with traditional teeth whitening treatments. The material used to make the crown is resistant to bleaching agents, and no amount of whitening gel will work. If you’re looking to whiten your teeth, it’s best to do so just before getting a crown or right before having it replaced so that the material can be matched to your tooth. If you have other teeth that are stained or discolored, speak with our South Gate dentist about your options. Contact Reza Dental Care today to reserve a no-pressure examination!