In this age of mall kiosk teeth-whitening and reality-TV dental makeovers, patients often come into my office with expectations of an instant Hollywood smile. They want dental implants to replace their missing teeth, veneers to improve appearance of existing teeth, and teeth whitening to bring a new glow to their smile.
Which leads to the next question my patients invariably ask: whether to get teeth whitened before or after dental implant procedures?
It’s a natural concern. When working with an oral surgeon for dental implants and a restorative dentist for teeth whitening, which procedure should come first to achieve the ideal result?
For starters, to achieve great cosmetic results, the oral surgeon and the restorative dentist must work in collaboration and in proper sequence. Careful coordination is even more important when other cosmetic treatments, such as veneers, are part of the plan. Here are some facts to consider when planning dental implant procedures along with cosmetic enhancements:
- Teeth must be whitened FIRST when planning implant restorations.
- Teeth can whiten several shades, depending on the technique and treatment time, so it is important to wait until the desired shade is achieved before making final restorations.
- The result and longevity of each teeth whitening technique — laser, white-strip, and tray gel — will vary and should be discussed with your dentist.
- During the whitening procedure, temporary restorations should be used on dental implants and even on natural teeth that will eventually receive veneers or crowns.
While tooth whitening is completely safe for natural teeth and dental implants, it takes patience and a good eye to match shades for an ideal smile. The color and shade of the final crowns and veneers must be matched carefully to the whitened teeth to achieve a natural and consistent appearance. For best results, this process should not be rushed.
Dr. Brian Gray, a general dentist in Washington, D.C., suggests waiting at least two weeks after a whitening procedure before finalizing implant crowns in order to “allow the teeth to ‘settle’ into a stabilized final shade.” One of the biggest downfalls, he continues, “is picking a final porcelain shade too early which won’t match at delivery of the final crowns.” Another important consideration is periodic whitening boosters to maintain the achieved shade.
So the answer to the question at hand? Go ahead and whiten your smile, even if you are contemplating dental implants. Just be sure to do the whitening first, final implants crowns after, and make sure your dentist and oral surgeon are working together.