The Cosmetic Dentistry Blog

May 6, 2011

Can you bleach porcelain veneers?

Filed under: Choosing a cosmetic dentist — Tags: , — mesasmiles @ 3:28 pm

I had a new way to explain an answer I gave to a Stacy in Missouri, several years ago. She e-mailed me about the shade of her porcelain veneers. She explained that she had decided to get porcelain veneers for her four front teeth and asked her family dentist to do that for her. She was concerned about getting the shade right, because her teeth were bleached. The dentist produced a shade tab that he said was the whitest shade available. She was skeptical, but let him go ahead.

The final result left her very disappointed and self-concious. She said that the veneers were at least an entire shade, maybe more, darker than her own teeth.

She asked me if she could bleach her porcelain veneers. Unfortunately, they don’t bleach. They’ll have to be re-done.

The problem here is the insensitivity of the dentist to esthetic issues. This is an important issue, and goes to the vast differences between dentists when it comes to cosmetic dentistry.

Porcelain veneers can be any color, as white as you want. Much whiter, even, than bleached teeth. But I have had e-mails where this has happened to patients. The dentist is so tuned out on esthetic issues that he doesn’t realize that the bleached teeth are much whiter. The dentist isn’t a bad dentist. Some of them are excellent. But he or she is a “fixer”, not an artist. He or she looks at the teeth, sees they’re pretty white, and so goes to his shade guide to write the prescription. He thinks: “They taught in dental school that B1 is the whitest shade, or was it A1? OK, we’ll ask for B1. That’s pretty white.” He doesn’t have the supplemental shade guide for bleached teeth that goes 4 shades whiter than B1. He may not even know it exists. And if he takes the trouble to hold the shade guide up to the teeth, he thinks, “That’s close enough.” This is what we’re dealing with in the case of a majority of dentists, unfortunately. And the fraction of dentists that are REALLY tuned in to esthetics is even smaller, like 1-2% that I would say are capable of creating a truly beautiful smile makeover.


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About David A. Hall

Dr. David Hall was one of the first 40 accredited cosmetic dentists in the world. He practiced cosmetic dentistry in Iowa, and in 1990 earned his accreditation with the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is now president of Infinity Dental Web, a company in Mesa, Arizona that does complete Internet marketing for dentists.

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