About teeth whiteners and their effect on dental work (including filings, cements, and veneers).
Can peroxide-based teeth whiteners have an effect on dental restorations and dental materials?
Studies have demonstrated that several types of dental materials can be affected when exposed to peroxide-based teeth whiteners. What has not been determined is the degree of clinical significance of these changes.
While each of the observed effects we discuss below might prove to be a minor obstacle or point to keep in mind, in general practice (and in light of the fact that over a decade of widespread use of peroxide-based teeth whiteners exists) these concerns are not usually considered by the dental community to be reasons not to have teeth whitening treatments.
At the time of your pre whitening dental examination your dentist can counsel you about these effects and explain to you how they specifically relate to your situation. Some of the potential effects of peroxide-based teeth whiteners on dental work are...
Possible effects of peroxide teeth whiteners on white dental fillings.
Some studies have suggested that the use of peroxide-based whiteners roughens of the surface of white dental fillings (at a microscopic level). Possibly this type of change can be associated with increased restoration microleakage or have an effect on a filling's hardness. However, even though these effects may take place, the clinical significance of these changes has not been definitively demonstrated.
It is possible that the use of a peroxide whitener might lighten the color of an existing white dental filling just slightly. This, however, is not a universally experienced event nor is it one that should be counted upon to occur. In fact, an absence of whitening effect on white fillings would be the event that the majority of people experience when bleaching their teeth.
In either case, one must realize that after the whitening process has been completed the only solution for mismatched dental restorations is to replace them. This treatment must be anticipated and planned for because it can require a significant amount of appointment time and cost.
There is one type of white dental plastic (methylmethacrylate) that can stain orange when it is exposed to a peroxide teeth whitener. Methylmethacrylate is typically only used for temporary dental restorations.
Possible effects of peroxide teeth whiteners on dental amalgam fillings ("silver" fillings).
Some studies have suggested that the exposure of dental amalgam fillings to a peroxide whitener can elevate the rate at which they release mercury. If this finding is accurate, the degree to which this effect takes place is typically considered to be a function of the concentration of the whitener. It has also been suggested that this effect takes place more readily with new dental amalgams. While the clinical significance of these findings has not yet been determined, your dentist might suggest to you that it would be best form for you to delay the initiation of your teeth whitening treatments if a number of new amalgam fillings have recently been placed.
There is a phenomenon that can take place where teeth with existing dental amalgam restorations can take on a greenish tint during the bleaching process. While this is not a common occurrence, your dentist might feel that amalgam fillings found in those teeth that hold a prominent position in your smile should be replaced with white fillings before the bleaching process has been begun.
Possible effects of peroxide teeth whiteners on dental cements.
It has been suggested that peroxide-based teeth whiteners can promote the dissolution of some types of dental cements (glass ionomer and zinc phosphate). The most common use of dental cements is to cement dental crowns and bridges in place. After over a decade of use of at-home teeth whiteners by the general population, the clinical significance of this finding has yet to be shown to be of major consequence.
Possible effects of peroxide teeth whiteners on dental veneers.
It is possible that teeth whitening treatments can affect the color of porcelain veneers. Veneers are thin shells (typically porcelain) that have been bonded onto the front side of a person's teeth. Because veneers are typically translucent, the precise color of a veneer can be significantly influenced by the color of the tooth structure that lies underneath it.
While teeth whitening products cannot penetrate through or change the color of a veneer, whiteners can permeate a tooth from its backside and therefore produce a lightening effect for the tooth itself. As a result of this tooth lightening, there is potential that the color of the dental veneer can appear lighter also.
Possible effects of peroxide teeth whiteners on dental porcelains.
Peroxide-based teeth whiteners have not been shown to have an effect on dental porcelains (except as noted above, teeth bleaching treatments may produce a lightening effect on porcelain veneers). This means that a person must keep in mind that while their whitening treatments can be expected to lighten their own natural teeth, porcelain objects such as dental crowns and bridges will not receive this same effect. In the case that a person has performed whitening treatments and now a mismatch exists between their natural teeth and their porcelain dental restorations, in most cases the only solution their dentist will have to offer is to replace the offending crowns and bridges. This type of dental treatment can require a significant amount of appointment time and money.
Sometimes this effect can be put to good use. As an example, possibly a person has a single dental crown on a front tooth that is too light in color. Teeth whitening treatments involving the natural teeth on either side of the dental crown can possibly lighten them enough so that they now blend in and more closely match with the color of the previously offending dental crown.