How to Whiten Bonding

By Premier Dental of Ohio

Teeth Whitening for Bonded Teeth

How to Whiten Bonded Teeth

This is a commonly googled question, which means it must be a concern for many people.  We know that the vast majority of Americans want a bright white smile.  When you have bonding on your teeth, it can pose a problem for any future teeth whitening.

In this week’s article, we will explain this problem and what you can do about it if you happen to be one of those with bonding, who also wants a whiter smile.

What is Dental Bonding?

Bonding is a layperson’s term for tooth-colored filling material that has an adhesive bond to the teeth.  Dentists typically prefer using the terms composite or bonded resin to describe this material.  

Historic filling materials did only that: they filled in a hole.  Advances in dental materials have developed composite resin (a type of “plastic”) that is capable of bonding to the hard tooth structures of enamel and dentin.

Your dentist uses bonded composite resin material to correct a wide variety of dental problems, both pathologic and cosmetic.  By pathologic, we mean progressively worsening dental diseases like cavities and acid erosion.  More commonly, the type of dental treatments called bonding refer to those correcting cosmetic issues.

Your dentist can use bonded composite resin to close small gaps between the front teeth.  Bonding is also a way to build up teeth that appear smaller than their neighboring teeth or have an abnormal shape.  Dentists can lengthen teeth shortened and flattened by long-time clenching and/or grinding with resin material.  This is also the material of choice when someone chips a front tooth.

What is Teeth Whitening?

True teeth whitening is the process of changing the color of a tooth through oxidation of dark colored pigments within the hard tooth structure.  Currently, the best chemical for this process is hydrogen peroxide and its close relative carbamide peroxide.  These chemicals are capable of penetrating through enamel to reach the pigmented molecules in the underlying dentin.  

Many people use techniques aimed at polishing away superficial stains to whiten the appearance of the teeth.  This is the mechanism of whitening toothpastes.  While this technique can achieve a brighter appearance to the teeth, it does not actually change the color of the underlying tooth.  It simply removes surface stains from the outermost layer of enamel, returning the teeth to their pre-stained color.

How Does Teeth Whitening Affect Bonding?

If you are performing teeth whitening and you have composite resin on your front teeth, you may notice a few different effects.

First of all, teeth whitening procedures using hydrogen peroxide chemicals will not change the color of the composite resin material itself.  They will, however, change the color of the hard tooth structure around the composite resin.  That means that means that the filling material could begin to look darker yellow in color, relative to the brightening of the surrounding tooth structure.  This is one reason that many people with bonding on front teeth avoid teeth whitening products.

Composite resin is not quite as glossy smooth as natural enamel, though, and it does tend to collect stains on the outermost layers.  This means that it may respond to whitening toothpaste or other methods that brighten the appearance of the teeth through superficial polishing.

Will Attempting to Whiten my Teeth Damage my Bonding?

Great question!

You cannot harm your dental work by using peroxide chemicals as part of a teeth whitening regimen.  If you have trouble with any existing dental work after using teeth whitening products, see your dentist for a thorough evaluation.  Teeth whitening procedures will not adversely affect healthy teeth and successful, stable dental work.  If you have any issues, it may indicate that there is a problem with your teeth or dental work.

Some DIY teeth whitening hacks or unapproved whitening toothpastes may include ingredients that are overly abrasive.  These products can damage your composite resin dental work.  Highly abrasive particles can scratch the surface of resin restorations, and in some cases, it can remove the outer layer of filling material. 

Make sure to only use products approved by the American Dental Association to ensure the safety of your teeth and dental work during use.

How Can I Whiten the Appearance of my Bonding?

Since the general answer to our title question is “You cannot whiten bonding”, you may still be wondering how to whiten the appearance of your composite bonding to improve your smile.  The good news is that you can improve the overall appearance of your smile.  The bad news is that you will not do so with teeth whitening alone.

In order to whiten your smile when you have visible composite resin on your front teeth, you have to follow a series of steps.  

Teeth Whitening

First, you will want to undergo teeth whitening procedures to change the underlying tooth color.  It is essential that you understand this could make the appearance of your existing dental work darker yellow.  It is not actually making them yellow; it is increasing the contrast between the bonding and your natural tooth.  We must get the underlying tooth color to your desired shade before changing the color of the filling material.

Two Week Waiting Period

Then, we wait for a full two weeks after performance of the last teeth whitening that exposes the teeth to peroxide chemicals.  This is necessary to ensure stabilization of the color and proper adhesion of the new composite resin material.  The oxidation caused by peroxide chemicals can interfere with the bond between adhesive resin materials and the tooth structure.  At two weeks post-whitening, there is not any interference.

Upgrading the Existing Dental Work

After the requisite two weeks, we can then upgrade the composite resin to new material that matches the new tooth shade, achieved through teeth whitening.  This allows your dentist to match the resin perfectly to the color of your teeth.  The goal is beautifully blended material that is invisible to the naked eye.

Maintain the New Color

In order to maintain the color of your upgraded bonding material, we recommend a few essential follow-up items.  First, you should see the dental hygienist consistently for professional teeth cleanings.  You should also perform good plaque removal with effective brushing and flossing as part of your daily home care.  Some people, like those who drink large amounts of coffee or other dark beverages, will also need to perform maintenance teeth whitening.  This helps you keep your teeth the same color as the bonding material.  Another great help for whitening maintenance is using an ADA-approved whitening toothpaste with an electric toothbrush.  This will consistently remove superficial stains from the teeth and composite resin.

More Questions about Bonding and/or Teeth Whitening?

Call your nearest Premier Dental of Ohio location today to schedule a cosmetic consultation with one of our highly skilled dentists.  We can answer all of your questions about teeth whitening, composite bonding, and achieving your dream smile.  We love helping our patients smile!

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