While dental implants serve a primary purpose to replace the function of lost teeth, they are also meant to restore the aesthetics of your smile. It is understandable that patients not only want a complete smile, but one that is also white and attractive. Don’t worry; you can have both. However, the rules of teeth whitening aren’t the same if you have dental implants versus natural teeth – or some combination of both.
Can you whiten your teeth if you have dental implants? This is a simple question with a not so straightforward answer. The truth is, you can undergo teeth whitening (even professional treatments at your dental office) without harming your dental implants. However, you can’t expect the cosmetic treatment to be effective on your dental implant teeth.
A dental implant is constructed to serve as an artificial root, and a replacement tooth (implant restoration) is attached on top. The dental implant essentially anchors the prosthetic tooth in place. Replacement teeth can be made from a variety of materials such as porcelain or plastic. While modern dentistry offers excellent materials for prosthetic teeth to look and feel just like real teeth, these materials simply don’t respond the same way as your natural tooth structures do when they are bleached or whitened.
When considering teeth whitening and dental implants together, timing is important. Your prosthetic teeth will be customized to blend in with the color or shade of your existing teeth. Therefore, if your smile shade is not quite what you want it to be, get your teeth whitening goals accomplished before your dental implant restoration is fabricated. Trying to match your implants with the rest of your smile afterwards can be difficult.
Here’s the good news. While you may be bummed to hear that prosthetic teeth don’t whiten like natural teeth, you’ll be happy to learn that when they are made of porcelain, they don’t stain like natural teeth either. Surface stains from tobacco, coffee or red wine can often be easily polished away from a porcelain tooth. If you have multiple dental implants or a full mouth of prosthetic teeth, you’ll enjoy this stain-resistant feature even more. Porcelain is considered a superior material of choice in restorative dentistry – as it portrays the natural translucence of a real tooth, provides strong durability and is very difficult to stain or discolor.
Implant dentistry and cosmetic dentistry can absolutely go hand in hand. However, it is important to talk through your aesthetic concerns with your dentist ahead of time to ensure your smile goals are realistic and that the proposed cosmetic procedure won’t compromise your dental implant investment.