can you whiten crowns

So you want your teeth sparkly white? If you’re considering whitening or bleaching you certainly want all your teeth white and not just some of them, right? So where does this leave you if you have porcelain crowns or laminate veneers? Can you bleach them?


The short answer is no, you cannot whiten your crowns. Whitening gels used on the natural surface of the teeth won’t have any effect on porcelain crowns & veneers. Let’s discuss the detail to help you understand.

What’s the Difference Between Porcelain Crowns & Laminate Veneers?

The biggest difference between crowns & veneers is the size of each. Crowns are larger and can replace a large part of a tooth or even the whole tooth. Veneers are smaller & only cover the teeth partially, usually at the front.

Veneers are mostly used in cosmetic procedures and can be used to aesthetically enhance the look of your teeth by changing the color & the form. Ever heard the saying “she’s got a new set of teeth”? This will usually refer to porcelain veneers. A dentist might use a veneer in the case of a very small chip but will mostly correct the tooth with composite.

Crowns are usually used for medical purposes such as replacing an old amalgam filling, strengthening the tooth structure after a root canal or fixing a broken tooth.

In the case of crowns, the whole area of the decayed or broken tooth will be removed and the crown will then replace the missing part. Veneers need less tooth structure to be removed so will not be used when a tooth needs a deep filling.

What Are Porcelain Crowns & Veneers Made Of?

Veneers are like shells made to fit each tooth perfectly. They’re thin & made of ceramic. Porcelain crowns are also made from ceramic but are larger and thicker (depending on the tooth structure).

Benefits & Drawbacks of Veneers

Have you ever watched a makeover television shows? If you have you’ll know what a big difference white & perfectly aligned teeth can make in a person’s appearance.

Veneers offer some great benefits:

  • Million dollar smile: Veneers are great because they cover the part of the teeth that you show when you smile.
  • Whiter teeth in no time: Veneers take only two weeks to prepare, mold & place. Note: It can take longer depending on your dentist & the technician that make the veneers.
  • Lasts a decade: Veneers can last 10 years or longer if they’re well looked after.

There are some disadvantages to veneers as well:

  • Sensitivity & loss of structure: If you’re getting veneers for cosmetic reasons your own teeth structure will have to be removed slightly. Should the veneer “shell” break it’ll reveal a small natural tooth underneath. Removing healthy tooth structure isn’t advisable although it’s a procedure done often. Veneers tend to cause sensitivity due to the removal of layers of the natural tooth.
  • Goodbye veneers: If the veneers aren’t glued or cemented properly there’s a chance of them “popping out” so always go to a reputable dentist for this intricate work.
  • Dear teeth grinder: Do you grind your teeth? Veneers can easily come off, break or crack if you grind on them often. You can have a bite plate made after you have your teeth veneered but it might still wear out.
  • Show me the money: Veneers can be expensive especially when done correctly.

Benefits & Drawbacks of Porcelain Crowns

There’s a dental saying: Everyone deserves a crown even if it’s in their mouth. Crowns are becoming more popular than amalgam fillings & rightfully so:

  • They’re less poisonous
  • They look better aesthetically.

In addition, crowns offer benefits such as:

  • Protect: Crowns protect & preserve the tooth structure and foundation.
  • Long lasting: Crowns can last more than 15 years or even 30 years if looked after well.
  • Durable: You’ll need a grinding plate if you’re a grinder or clencher. However, crowns can take a lot more wear & tear than veneers can. They won’t chip as easily either.

But there is a downside too:

  • Expensive: Crowns can be extremely expensive.
  • Preparation: Do you like your dentist? I hope so. You’ll have to go for appointments often. Your dentist will have to test the color, fit the tooth size and prep the tooth structure when you’re having crowns done.
  • Cosmetic no-no: Crowns are often used instead of veneers as a cosmetic procedure. In general, this is not the route to go. Crowns need a lot more tooth structure removal and will leave you with almost no natural tooth structure left.

In Conclusion

Does this help you understand the limitations of whitening crowns or veneer?

But don’t despair. There is hope: Crowns & veneers can be lightened when not in the mouth. Some dentists will be willing to remove an existing crown or veneer. He or she will then lighten the crown until it matches your natural teeth & re-cement it.

But here’s your best option: Whiten all your teeth before getting crowns or veneers.

Now keep smiling!

On the subject of whitening teeth, you can find the following posts helpful:

Can you whiten your teeth with a mouthwash?

Is whitening charcoal the real thing?

Author: Peter Mayhew

Peter is a dental hygienist in the city of Chicago, IL. In his free time he likes to write blogs and product reviews on anything dental health related.