Question: My veneers no longer match the color of my other teeth, so I’m interested in whitening them. How do you go about whitening veneers?
Answer: Unfortunately, whitening gel doesn’t work on veneers. In order to get your veneers to match the rest of your teeth, they’ll need to be replaced. But there’s still lots you can do to protect your veneers from darkening!
Reasons Veneers Darken & What to Do
Little brown lines on your teeth: Do you have little brown lines where your veneer meets the tooth? Here’s how it happens: as you age, your gumline will pull back a little (this is called gum recession), exposing the spot where the veneer meets the tooth. At this place, there’s a glue line, which can get stained because it’s made of composite. That composite can absorb coffee, wine, and other dark, staining foods and drinks and become a brown line on your veneered tooth.
What to do: Be vigilant about gum recession. Ask for a pocket reading at each dental checkup — this is a measurement of how much your gums are receding. Gum recession is irreversible — you can prevent it from progressing, but you can’t correct from past damage — so start monitoring it now.
A veneer that has darkened: A porcelain veneer shouldn’t darken over time. Porcelain is extremely dense and can’t absorb stains in the way a natural tooth can. A plastic veneer can occasionally become lightly stained.
What to do: At your next teeth cleaning, ask your hygienist to polish the veneer to remove the staining.
A tooth that was hit hard: When teeth are hit hard, the inner tissue (dentin) can become damaged. Damaged dentin ages faster than undamaged dentin — meaning your teeth will yellow faster.
What to do: Try applying whitening gel to the back of the tooth using custom-made trays. Doing this could lighten the inner tissue (dentin), thereby lightening the color that reflects out through your veneer and making the whole tooth look whiter.
An old veneer: If your veneers are more than 20 years old, they could have been made with a more porous material that is more susceptible to darkening over the years than the newer materials.
What to do: Consider replacing your old veneers with one of the newer porcelain materials. The newest materials are strong, long lasting and very resistant to changing color.
What to Do Before Getting Your Veneers Replaced
The strategies above might help tweak the shade of your veneer. But for true color change, veneers have to be replaced because veneers can’t be whitened.
Before jumping in:
- Make sure you do your whitening before replacing the veneers so that everything matches.
- Take a few weeks or months to decide what color teeth you want before you replace the veeners.
- Make sure your dentist knows exactly what shade you want.
- Bring in a Pinterest board or magazine photos.
Mark Burhenne DDS