Porcelain Crowns

Whitening Porcelain Crowns

Everyone wants to have a beautiful, pearly-white smile. Many people want to know the best way to get their teeth to glisten, including patients who have had crown work. At Trillium Dental, we’re often asked if bonding or veneers can be put on front porcelain crowns to whiten teeth. We’ve explored the possibility, and offer both the answer and the best option for reaching your oral health goals.

Our expert dentists considered the question of putting veneers or bonding on front crowns to whiten teeth. While yes, it can be done, the results may be less than ideal in terms of appearance and durability. For example, let’s say an older crown is in place, but the color is unsatisfactory. The crown may even be healthy and in good shape overall, despite the staining or off-color tone. The facing, or buccal aspect of the crown, could indeed be prepped for a veneer, just like for a regular tooth. Then an impression could be made, temporarily placed, and the impression sent off for veneer fabrication. 

For the process to work, additional steps must be taken. In order to get the new material to “stick” to the old crown, the old crown must be etched for at least one minute with hydrofluoric acid after prepping. Hydrofluoric acid is very caustic, and will micro etch the metal or porcelain of the old crown, creating a mechanical retention for the new material to adhere to. The veneer would not be able to be cemented in place on the old crown without these minor modifications in the cementation technique.

After etching, rinsing, and drying the etched surface, a silane coupling agent is then brushed over the surface. This helps create a hybrid layer between the old metal or porcelain surface, and the new bonding and cementing materials. The bonding agent is swabbed on and cured, and then the veneer is cemented into place with bonding cement.

The same general steps can be said for using bonding. A professional must prep the face of the crown as desired, etch and place the bonding agent, then flow or pack the desired shade of composite resin over the crown. The final steps including shaping, curing, and polishing for the ideal look and match to the other teeth.

Regardless of whether a porcelain veneer or bonding is used, our view at Trillium Dental is that the results are less than optimal. For such an intensive and lengthy process, the final product isn’t going to be worthwhile. We believe that if you’re considering placing a veneer to improve the appearance of an old crown, you might as well go ahead and have the old crown removed and replaced from scratch for the amount of work involved.

What about the cost? It’s potentially true that the cost of using bonding to cover or improve an old crown would be minimal. However, the durability and reliability of the work are often sub-par over the long term. Silane coupled bonding repairs to porcelain just don’t hold up well, even though at times one is able to achieve an excellent color match. What may look excellent at the beginning is likely to prove itself a bad investment over time.

In summary, yes, old crowns can be masked using veneers or porcelain, but the results are usually inferior in one way or the other. 

We suggest a more effective approach to whitening your teeth. First, discuss the situation thoroughly with your dentist, to ensure that the best solution is chosen. Our Lansing cosmetic dentists would likely recommend replacing old crowns or veneers with new ones. In the bonding process, much less tooth material is removed, making the procedure more comfortable for the patient. They may also be used if the enamel on your teeth is badly worn or if your teeth are not properly aligned. These thin shells adhere to your teeth and can improve the appearance of each tooth through changes to its color, size, length or shape.

During your initial appointment, your teeth will be prepared, impressions will be taken, and your teeth will be given a temporary covering. It usually takes two to three weeks for your new veneers to return from the laboratory, at which time, the covering is removed and the veneers are bonded to your teeth. These laboratory-fabricated veneers are usually made from porcelain or pressed ceramic.

The advantage of replacing old crowns or veneers with new ones is the peace of mind that they are lasting, durable, and reliable. At Trillium Dental, our cosmetic services provide patients the opportunity to redesign their smiles with state-of-the-art, cost-effective, and modern techniques. Our goal is to make you feel comfortable and confident in your oral health decisions. Consult our dentists at (517) 485-3444 to discuss the best options for improving the appearance of your smile!

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