Should I bleach my teeth before I get a crown?

A common question we hear from patients is, “Should I bleach my teeth before I get a crown or implant?”. 

In our experience about a third of patients consider lightening their teeth when faced with needing their dental work. However before making the choice to bleach your teeth, there are a few things that one should consider.

Is bleaching something you want to continue long term?

The material that crowns and implants are made of are not affected by dental bleach. Bleaching will only lighten your natural teeth, and the shade of your crown will remain the same.

Bleaching just removes surface stains. If your diet, lifestyle or poor oral hygiene are causing noticeable staining, it will come back after bleaching.

 If you decide that you want to lighten your teeth before you get a crown, then in order for the crown to continue to match your surrounding teeth you will need to upkeep that shade by bleaching regularly.

Failing to maintain bleaching your natural teeth will result in your crowns standing out in color.

Are you a good candidate for bleaching?

The internal color of your teeth are determined mostly by genetics and the health of the tooth. So, unlike the TV commercials say, your teeth won’t go from dark yellow to blazing white. 

Most likely teeth will only lighten 1-4 shades with bleaching. Those teeth which have internal or external decay will not experience consistent results without additional, more invasive dental care.

Therefore, if you have a dark internal shade of your teeth, it is important to have realistic expectations about how much of a difference bleaching will make, and if those results are worth the cost and continued maintenance.

Additionally dental bleach can be very irritating on the gums. Many people experience chemical burns from at home, or in office bleaching, and are forced to discontinue.  It can also cause tooth sensitivity in some patients.

Before beginning any type of teeth bleaching or whitening, be sure to always consult your dentist to see if you have any health contraindications. 

When do you plan on bleaching?

As we mentioned before, a dental crown or implant will not be affected by bleaching. If you bleach your teeth after you have a crown seated, it will remain the same color, and contrast the newly lighter teeth.

For that reason most people commiting to bleaching choose to do it before getting their dental restoration. 

However if you don’t finish the bleaching process and get to your desired shade before your dentist sends your case to the lab, or before you come in to get a custom shade, the technicians will have to guess on what shade they need to create your crown from.

Bleaching after you have had your crown prepped will likely result in a less accurate shade causing the crown to stick out from the others. In some cases, the shade difference is so apparent that it will need to be remade.

Do I have any alternatives to bleaching my teeth?

Many common foods contribute to staining on our teeth.

An option we often suggest to those unhappy with the color of their teeth is to get a good dental cleaning. It sounds simplistic, but often a thorough cleaning will lighten a patient’s teeth a few shades.

Maintaining the recommended schedule of getting a dental cleaning every 6 months is an easy way to upkeep a lighter shade.

Making lifestyle changes is another way to help maintain lighter teeth shades. Drinking coffee, tea, wine, soda and juices all contribute to staining. Tobacco use, and eating certain foods also will stain teeth.

Being sure to brush at least 2 times a day, preferably after each meal, along with regular flossing, is the easiest way to prevent, and lessen staining.

If you are very unhappy with the look of your teeth, a more permanent option that doesn’t require maintenance is veneers. Veneers are thin coverings that are placed on the front surface of your teeth. Along with ensuring a consistent shade amongst the teeth, the shape and position of the teeth can also be made to look corrected.

After giving all of these questions some thought and consideration, we encourage you to have a frank conversation with your dentist about what option may be the best fit for you.

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