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Whitening Bonded Teeth: Perfect Your Smile

Dental bonding using natural-tooth-colored composite resin is a marvel for:

  • Repairing decayed, cracked, or chipped teeth
  • Changing the shape of teeth to look longer or close gaps
  • Filling cavities

But it's a less-than-marvelous experience if you've ever whitened your teeth only to have your bonded teeth remain the same color as your pre-whitened teeth.

Learn why that happens and steps you can take to keep your smile perfectly brilliant.

How Bonding Responds to Colour

Teeth whitening products and procedures provide an effective, simple way to remove stains caused by foods, drinks, and habits over time. Teeth-staining culprits, in particular, include juicy, colorful berries and tomato-based sauces; coffee, tea, caffeinated soda, and red wine; and smoking and chewing tobacco.

Trying to whiten bonded teeth, however, is a different story.

The colour of the bonding resin and porcelain is designed to match your natural tooth colour. Then, when bonded to your natural teeth, no one except dental professionals can tell which teeth are bonded.

Unlike tooth enamel, though, bonding resin is non-porous. On your natural teeth, stains form when the staining agents penetrate your teeth's pores – and whitening agents penetrate the surface of your teeth to whiten them.

Because of the non-porous nature of resin, whitening agents can't penetrate them. So, your resin-bonded teeth can look stained or discolored in certain areas due to the contrast with your bleached natural teeth. And like any plastic item, resin can become discolored over time when exposed to various staining agents.

Simply put, bonding resin can appear stained, but you can't whiten it with tooth-whitening products.

When and How to Whiten Bonded Teeth

The best time to whiten your natural teeth is before you have a bonding procedure. That way, your teeth are at their whitest when your dental professional colour-matches the bonding resin. If you keep your teeth white with good oral care and touch-up treatments, your natural and bonded teeth will continue to match.

However, if you've had a bonding procedure in the past and now wish to whiten your teeth, what should you do? Since your bonded tooth might be discolored and won't respond to the whitening agent, you have two choices:

  • Get a porcelain veneer that matches your new tooth colour to hide the stained bonded tooth.
  • Replace the stained resin with bonding resin that matches your new tooth colour. This might be a good option if your bond is more than 10 years old or has deteriorated for any reason.

Talk to your dental professionals about your options.

Effects of Tooth Whitening

Help ensure you have a positive tooth-whitening experience at home using over-the-counter or dentist-prescribed whitening products by keeping these things in mind:

  • Always follow the instructions that come with your whitening package.
  • Certain over-the-counter whitening agents can irritate the soft tissues of your mouth – particularly your gums – and cause tooth sensitivity. If you feel the burn, stop using the product.
  • Overusing whitening products can damage your natural tooth enamel and lead to increased tooth sensitivity.
  • And, again, your bonded teeth won't get lighter as your natural teeth will.

For an optimum and safe experience, consult with your dental professional about whitening your teeth in the dentist's chair. While there, you can talk about procedures to lighten your bonded teeth.

If you're considering tooth bonding, particularly for cosmetic purposes, be sure to consult with your dentist about teeth whitening before the bonding procedure and how you'll handle staining issues in the future. And if you have bonded teeth that aren't as white as they used to be, your dentist is also a good source to learn how to lighten them, so they're as white as your natural teeth. After all, your dentist is in the business of perfecting your smile.