Whitening toothpaste, whitening strips, or professional whitening gel are all safe and effective methods of teeth whitening when you follow the manufacturer’s instructions and recommendations. However, there are some things to consider when whitening your teeth. One of those things is whether or not you have any dental restorations, such as fillings or crowns. If you do, how you whiten and when can be important, and, in some cases, whitening may not be your best option. Let’s take a look at how teeth whitening can cause damage to fillings, crowns, and other dental restorations.
Understanding How Whitening Works
Whitening, or bleaching, treatments, such as strips or whitening gel, use carbamide peroxide or hydrogen peroxide to break up both surface and deeper stains within the teeth. The peroxide enters into pores in the enamel and works to break up the stain molecules, resulting in a whitening process. The concentration of the peroxide in the gel typically ranges from 10-35 percent, with the stronger concentrations providing greater whitening.
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While the enamel of your teeth is porous, dental restorations are not and therefore do not respond to whitening in the same manner. For many years, it was believed that whitening treatments did nothing to dental restorations. However, more recent studies have shown that whitening treatments can damage restorations in a variety of different ways.
A 2013 study published in the Journal of Dentistry looked at four different restorative materials and how they reacted to 40 percent hydrogen peroxide. All four materials underwent two 20-minute applications. Using the Vickers microhardness test, they determined that all materials showed surface softening but no material loss. However, in a 2014 clinical focus report in the Journal of Evidence Based Dental Practice pointed out that this was an in vitro study and did not take into account subsequent toothbrushing after this softening and the possible loss of restorative material when this occurs.
Fillings, Crowns, and Other Restorations Do NOT Whiten
Another 2013 study in the Journal of Dentistry looked at the effects of home-bleaching applications on the color of five different resin composites. They tested these composites with both hydrogen peroxide and carbamide peroxide. Their results revealed clinically unacceptable color changes for all five of the different composites.
The European Commission of Public Health also reports that dental amalgams can react to whitening products, causing spotting and color changes. In addition, dental amalgam with silver content can release mercury when exposed to whitening agents.
Increased Tooth Sensitivity Common in Restored Teeth
Tooth sensitivity is another potential adverse side effect when whitening with fillings or other dental restorations. Another 2013 study in the Journal of Dentistry looked to evaluate the level of tooth sensitivity in those with dental restorations when undergoing whitening treatments. They evaluated 30 patients, 15 with sound teeth, and 15 with dental restorations. While all participants experienced tooth sensitivity, those with restorations experienced higher intensity sensitivity.
Talk with Your Dentist Before Teeth WhiteningTo Reduce Potential Damage to Fillings and Crowns
Before you consider whitening your teeth, it is always a good idea to schedule a check-up with your dentist. This allows your dentist to look for potential decay that could cause issues when whitening. You may also want to have a dental cleaning as the removal of dental plaque aids in the whitening process. However, if you have dental restorations, seeing your dentist before whitening is advised. They can let you know how whitening may affect your fillings or crowns.
You must also consider that your current restorations match your current teeth color. When you whiten your teeth, these restorations will not whiten. After whitening, you may need to talk with your dentist about replacing restorations to match your bright white smile.
SportingSmiles Offers professional-strength Whitening Gel and Custom-Fit Trays
When you get the all-clear from your dentist and decide to whiten your teeth, SportingSmiles offers a home-whitening kit. Our kit includes professional-strength gel and custom molded whitening trays that help ensure full tooth coverage. Custom-fit trays also reduce the risk of gum sensitivity during treatments. For more information, visit our Teeth Whitening page.