I had two dental implants placed about five years ago and they’re doing great. I couldn’t be happier with them in terms of how they’re holding up and how natural they look and feel. However, I keep looking at my smile in the mirror and I’m not happy with the way it looks overall. I’m considering having some cosmetic work done to make my smile pop a little bit more. The problem is, the implants show a bit when I smile, and I’ve heard that dental implants won’t change color if I whiten. Is this true? If so, what are my options for cosmetic work? Can I have veneers or something put over the top or pay to have them recolored? — Elana
Unfortunately, you heard right. Dental implants are typically made from porcelain or another material that doesn’t respond to tooth whitening agents. They’re incredibly stain-resistant, but you can’t really change the color of them once they’re made, either. A lot goes into making a crown. They are generally made in layers, so that they take on the appearance of a natural tooth, with some translucency to them and the more opaque color below. Sometimes, a lab can recolor crowns, but this is usually done to make them darker, not lighter, because the color is already baked in. You also can’t put a veneer on a crown. It would be difficult, if not impossible to place, plus it would be bulky, and the aesthetics of it wouldn’t be good.
You have a couple of options with them, depending on how much they show. If they’re farther back, whitening your teeth may not be a problem. Teeth naturally look darker towards the back, and so a shade or two of difference may not be noticeable.
If they’re in a prominent position, and visible when you smile, you’d have to have the crowns replaced after you finish whitening. This way, you could have them made to match your final shade, and they’d blend seamlessly. Bear in mind, it’s only the crown on top of the dental implants that you’d have to replace. The rest of them, including the screws and posts, should be just fine as they are. So, it’ll probably only take a couple of weeks to complete, versus the months you spent initially.
You can whiten your teeth if you have dental implants, but before you begin, it’s a good idea to come up with a strategy for managing the color of those crowns before you start.
This blog post is brought to you by Des Moines cosmetic dentist, Dr. Phelan Thomas. For more information on the services he provides, please visit his Des Moines cosmetic dentist website.