How can I make my teeth whiter?

Methods for teeth whitening mainly include teeth bleaching, resin veneers, porcelain veneers, and various ceramic crowns. Which whitening method is more suitable for you should be discussed with your dentist.

  • Teeth Bleaching

Teeth bleaching refers to the application of gel-like bleaching agents (usually hydrogen peroxide) of different concentrations on the tooth surface to whiten the surface and lessen pigmentation deposits on the teeth. The effect of teeth whitening depends on the original condition of the teeth, the concentration of the bleaching agent, and the duration of bleaching. There are home-use and medical-use bleaching agents, which both generally require the guidance and assistance of a doctor to complete. The advantages to these agents are fast results and low cost. The disadvantages are that it is only effective for teeth with relatively mild discoloration, and there may be varying degrees of allergic reactions during the whitening process. The whitening effect is not permanent, requiring repeated whitening to maintain the effect.

  • Resin Veneers

Resin veneers cover the surface of the original teeth with a layer of white resin to conceal their color. The cost is between teeth bleaching and porcelain veneers or crowns. It can be effective for teeth that cannot be whitened by bleaching. However, it requires the removal of a very thin layer of tooth tissue and resin may stain or discolor after a period of time, so the whitening effect is not as beautiful as porcelain veneers or crowns.

  • Porcelain Veneers or Crowns

Porcelain veneers and crowns cover the surface of the original teeth with a layer of all-ceramic veneers or all-ceramic crowns to conceal the original color or defects of the teeth. The whitening effect of porcelain veneers or crowns is the best, but the cost is also the highest. Porcelain veneers and crowns can both correct mild misalignment of teeth and improve the color of teeth, but they also both require the removal of a very thin layer of tooth tissue. Veneers remove less tooth tissue than crowns, but the effect is not as good as crowns. Whether porcelain veneers or crowns, they have a porcelain-like texture, making your teeth more translucent.

What is the difference between metal-ceramic crowns and all-ceramic crowns?

Metal-ceramic crowns have a layer of metal lining, while all-ceramic crowns are made entirely of porcelain. It is especially important to note that it is better not to have metal-ceramic crowns for front teeth, as you will spend a lot of money that you may regret later.

Due to the layer of metal, metal-ceramic crowns have the following disadvantages:

  • There may be a black line at the edge of the crown;
  • The translucency of metal-ceramic crowns is limited, making them look somewhat artificial;
  • Metal has poor biocompatibility and may cause some irritation to the gums;
  • Metal can oxidize in the mouth, leading to staining or darkening of the gums.

Comparatively, all-ceramic crowns have the following advantages:

  • There will be no black line at the edge of the crown;
  • High translucency makes them look very similar to natural teeth;
  • Porcelain has good biocompatibility and does not irritate the gums;
  • There is no oxidation issue, so the gums will not discolor.

Does cosmetic dentistry affect dental health?

If the cosmetic dentist's technique is good and the patient takes proper care of the teeth after cosmetic treatment, it generally will not affect dental health. Some tooth sensitivity may occur during teeth whitening due to stimulation of the tooth pulp, but these reactions are generally reversible. When veneers or full ceramic crowns are placed, 0.6-1.5mm of tooth tissue needs to be removed, which will not affect the strength of the teeth. Generally, the tooth nerve will not be affected as well, but sometimes there may be a slight sensitivity reaction, which is also reversible. Here are the principles that patients undergoing cosmetic dentistry should follow:

  • It is very necessary to choose an excellent cosmetic restoration team;
  • Teeth must be cleaned before cosmetic treatment, and the gums must be healthy;
  • Teeth with periodontal disease must undergo periodontal treatment before cosmetic treatment can be performed;
  • If the teeth to be cosmetically restored are damaged or broken, and the broken end is level with or below the gum line, crown lengthening surgery should be performed to expose the broken end before cosmetic restoration can be carried out 3-4 weeks later;
  • Good home dental care must be maintained for cosmetically restored teeth;
  • A professional oral examination and teeth cleaning must be done every six months.

What are the harms of poor cosmetic restoration?

If the cosmetic restoration is well-done and the teeth are well-cleaned and maintained, there generally will be no harm. However, if: necessary periodontal treatment or management is not done before cosmetic restoration; or if the periodontium is not handled properly during restoration due to the dentist's poor restoration technique; or if the patient does not maintain good oral hygiene after restoration, the cosmetic restoration may fail, resulting in not only economic losses but also damage to dental health.

  • After a well-done restoration:
  • There’s no irritation of the gums, and the color and texture of the gums are very healthy.
  • After a poor restoration:
  • There’s redness, swelling, and possible destruction of the gums. Mild cases may require removal of the restoration, while severe cases may require removal of the tooth root.

How many all-ceramic crowns should be made?

Due to cost issues, doctors and patients often need to discuss how many crowns to make. The principle, of course, is the fewer, the better. If the overall color and alignment of the teeth are relatively good, and only individual teeth need to be cosmetically restored, then only those individual teeth should be restored. If it is for full-mouth restoration, it is generally between 12 to 16 teeth. The specific number is determined by the number of teeth visible when smiling. If there are too many teeth visible when smiling, the number of teeth to be restored may be more, and if there are fewer teeth visible, the number of teeth to be restored may be fewer.

Does it hurt when teeth are cosmetically restored?

Teeth may be sensitive during teeth whitening, and the degree of sensitivity varies from person to person. Sometimes, painkillers may be needed. When veneers or crowns are placed, the teeth may feel sour due to the need to remove a thin layer of tooth tissue. Local anesthesia is generally used, and the teeth may be sensitive before and after the preparation and placement of the crowns, but this discomfort is generally tolerable.

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