Can You Disguise Cracks In Teeth By Whitening Them?

Teeth whitening is one of the most common forms of cosmetic dental work that can be performed at home. It can drastically improve the appearance of teeth, but it must be remembered that the process is strictly cosmetic and cannot improve the tooth's physical structure. If you have small cracks in your teeth, you might think that you can minimise their appearance via whitening, disguising the cracks so that they blend into your teeth. This is not only unwise—it's also potentially dangerous.

Tooth Enamel And Dentin

Cracks in your teeth are in fact cracks in your dental enamel, which is the hard outer layer of your teeth. The cracks may extend through to the dentin beneath, which is darker in colour than enamel—making the crack more obvious. Additionally, breaches in a tooth's dental enamel can create a groove where bacteria and various other contaminants can accumulate. Again, this makes the crack appear darker and more obvious. Whitening your teeth to disguise the crack might feel like a logical course of action.

The Tooth's Inner Structure

Whitening teeth with breached dental enamel will have minimal effect on the prominence of the crack—it won't be disguised. Not only will your efforts be of little use, but you risk having the teeth whitener's active ingredient (which is typically hydrogen peroxide) reach the tooth's inner structure. If it enters the tooth, the whitening agent can conceivably irritate the tooth's pulp (which is its nerve, composed of living tissue and blood vessels). This can be extremely painful, and if the dental pulp becomes irreversibly inflamed, you may need a root canal.

Help From A Dentist

So while whitening teeth to disguise cracks is a non-starter, the problem remains. Unsightly cracks in teeth cannot be corrected at home. You must see a dentist. For superficial cracks that remain limited to your dental enamel, your dentist may be able to contour your teeth (using a light buffing action) to smooth these cracks away. Deeper cracks can be filled with a tooth-coloured composite resin (the same material used to fill cavities). Dental veneers can also be fitted to the teeth to completely cover any imperfections.

Whitening With Restorations

Remember that if any type of dental restoration (composite resin or veneers) are added to your teeth, these restorations cannot be whitened. This isn't a major problem—your dentist can simply whiten the rest of your teeth to match the restorations, meaning all your teeth will have the desired level of whitening. You can then maintain these results using a whitening toothpaste at home, with occasional touch-ups performed by your dentist.

Please don't attempt to disguise any cracks in your teeth by whitening them. For this type of issue, you'll need some help from a cosmetic dentistry.