Dental Education Lecture: Bleaching vs. Crown

As mentioned earlier, there are two ways to deal with discolored front teeth: cover with crowns and/or whiten.  The latter is more conservative, whereas the former is suitable for largely decayed or broken teeth.  It is still necessary to whiten the discolored or potentially to be discolored tooth before putting on a crown, because the crown may cover up our discolored tooth, but not the root in the future.  As we get old, our gums keep shrinking and expose our root.  When our tooth is discolored, our root is also out of color, even though we cannot see it.  If done properly, bleaching may whiten our root as well.

Fig.1 Fig.2 Fig.3
Michael has had a crown for a while (Fig.1: C).  Gradually the disgusting root is showing off (Fig.2 (Fig.1 blow-up): arrows) due to receding gums.  Michael does not floss on the regular basis or does not see dentist for cleaning often.  There is a lot of tartar attached to the root of the tooth with the crown (white arrows in Fig.3 (X-ray for Fig.1 and 2).  Tartar is one of reasons for receding gums.  The tooth with improperly done root canal has tendency to discolor over years.  Michael's root canal appears not so good (black arrow in Fig.3), because the tooth has mild degree of root tip infection (red arrows).

 To get the best long-termed cosmetic effect, it is necessary to have good root canal and bleaching done before placing a crown for our front tooth.  After crown, we need to brush and floss daily and see dentist for cleaning on a regular basis.

Xin Wei, DDS, PhD, MS 1st edition 03/21/2010, last revision 04/01/2010