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Can Teeth Be Too Bleached for Dental Work?

I whiten my teeth every other year because I like a very white smile. This year, I was in an accident that damaged a tooth and now I need a dental crown. My dentist cannot seem to find a crown shade white enough to match my teeth. He told me he is using the whitest color, but it is markedly darker than the rest of my teeth. What do I do?


Dear Candice,

I have some good news for you. It is definitely possible for you to get a porcelain crown that matches your white teeth. However, you may have to do it with a different dentist. Here is why.

Basic shade guide before whitening was popular

Dentists use a shade guide to match dental work to your teeth. Above was the standard shade guide for many years. I’m willing to bet your dentist is still working from this shade guide. This served dentists very well until about the 1990s, when teeth whitening exploded in popularity.

Once people started whitening their teeth, the shade guide no longer had shades white enough for these patients. Dentists who did a lot of cosmetic work recognized this was an issue that needed to be addressed. As a result, the shade guides developed an extention for dentists who did cosmetic work. Here is an image of that below:

Shade guide with extension for whiter teeth

As you can see, this has much whiter options. I’m also willing to bet your dentist does not do a lot of cosmetic work in his office. He probably does not have this shade guide. I think you will be better served if you went to a dentist who has the tools required to give you a natural looking result. This is especially true with a tooth that is visible when you smile. A flat shade, is not going to be enough. In order to have the variance of translucency that a natural tooth has, your dentist will have to provide a color map with various creams and tints to truly mimic your other teeth. I don’t think your current dentist will know how to do this.

Look for a dentist who does regular cosmetic work and you should be able to get the dental crown you need.
This blog is brought to you by Moline Dentist Dr. Thomas Goebel.

Is a Cracked Crown a Dental Emergency?

I’ve had porcelain crowns for over ten years. They’ve served me well. One of them has always had a minor defect, which I am told is quite common. You could never see it with a normal glance, but there has been a change in the last couple of days. Now I can see it and feel it. There is a horizontal line on the crown. Does this mean that I am in danger of losing the crown? Would it be considered a dental emergency?


Dear Katherine,

A porcelain crown being placed on a tooth

While I would not consider it a dental emergency, I would have it attended to soon. Your dentist was correct that crowns can have minor defects. They’re generally called craze lines. Usually, they are not an issue. Yours has obviously changed, though, if you can see and feel it. I do think it will eventually break.

You have a couple of options here. First, is to just replace the one defective crown. Your other is to replace all the crowns at the same time. Which you do will depend on the condition of the crowns and your budget. The benefit to doing them all at once is that you don’t have to replace them one at a time as they age. However, if they’re all still in good condition, you might not want to do that.

Beware of a dentist telling you that you have to change all of them at the same time in order to get them to match. That is not necessary and a dentist should be able to match a single crown. It may take a few try ins, but it can be done.

For now, just call your dentist and schedule an appointment to have the remainder of the crowns looked at. Then you can decide wether or not to replace just the one that had developed a problem or all of them at once. While I did say it is not an emergency, I wouldn’t wait too long. This one is going to fail.

This blog is brought to you by Moline Dentist Dr. Thomas Goebel.