Do I need to Crest-strip it?
November 18, 2010 9:19 PM   Subscribe

I've got a bum tooth up front, and want to get a crown -- do I need to bother trying to bleach/whiten my teeth ahead of time, or just go with whatever shade I am now as a match?

Pertinent information: former smoker (10 years ago), fairly heavy coffee drinker, but don't think my teeth are OMFG yellowed or stained; just, you know, normal coloured.

When I was 15, I took a line drive in the mouth. Had root canals on both front teeth, but both are now fairly dark in comparison to other teeth.

I've got a quote, that my health plan covers a massive amount of, to get my front two teeth crowned, but I wonder if it *really* matters whether I get the rest of them whitened/bleached/treated before I do this. I was advised at one point to make sure I had any bleaching/etc done before crowns, to make sure that I had the "right" colour to the rest of my teeth before crowning, for matching.

No one, including Ms Liquado, has ever commented on my teeth (front teeth or otherwise), so I want to make sure I'm not pissing away money on bleaching beforehand. Having said that, for personal vanity, I am going to have the crowns done -- I'm open to whatever option makes the most sense colouring-wise, but I'm not a huge fan of spending money on the unnecessary.

Also, I have not done any teeth whitening strips/etc. to test effectiveness - if that's something I should be doing before, I'm all ears.

posted by liquado to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's entirely your decision whether you're happy with the current color of your teeth I think. I think the person who told you to whiten before any work meant that you should get your teeth as white as you wanted them so that when the dentist matched the crowns it would be to the color you wanted to have permanently.

My dentist has a little shade guide he used when he mixes up the material for crowns and white filings, and it ranges from bright white (this is Hollywood) to really dark yellow, it also has shades of grey and brown.

You can't bleach the crowns, so if you want whiter teeth bleach them now, but if you're happy with the shade just let the dentist match what you have now.
posted by crabintheocean at 9:31 PM on November 18, 2010

Best answer: Just last week I did some bleach strips ahead of dentist appointment for exactly this reason -- I didn't want the crown to match the nasty yellow my teeth had gotten to be. I got the super-duper elite ones, which still cost less than $30, and they did a fine job. On the flip side, my mother got her first crowns over 30 years ago, when she was still a smoker, and wishes she hadn't gotten locked into yellower crowns.
So, if you're happy with the color most of your teeth are now, I wouldn't worry too much -- but giving the whitening strips a shot wouldn't be a terrible idea. I don't think I'd spend a lot on dentist's office whitening or anything like that, though.
posted by katemonster at 9:33 PM on November 18, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: crabintheocean: exactly my take on it.

katemonster: that's what I've been thinking, but don't want to spend $250+ on "dentist" bleaching unless I have to. I'm thinking I'll try the fancy strips, and see what happens.
posted by liquado at 9:56 PM on November 18, 2010

I bleached before I had my bridges made. My bridges are my eye teeth, which are apparently naturally a couple of shades darker than your front teeth, so there was actually some flexibility as far all this.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 11:00 PM on November 18, 2010

Best answer: As an teeth bleaching connoisseur, the best option available at a drug store is Rembrandt Two Hour.
posted by mmdei at 12:35 AM on November 19, 2010

but don't want to spend $250+ on "dentist" bleaching unless I have to

The price-tag reflects one key ingredient that you get with a proper dentist that you will simply not be able to get in off-the-shelf whitening strips: trays. Trays, in case you're unfamiliar with the terminology, are basically an extremely thin plastic sheathe that fits around your teeth. This is created by first taking a mold of your teeth, so the finished product is like a bespoke mouth guard. You fill this with just a bit of the whitener and wear it overnight. With most OTC strips, you're only hitting one plane of the tooth. But with trays, the entire tooth is sitting in the whitener. So you get much more consistent results.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:55 AM on November 19, 2010

Oh, and to answer the initial question: if you've already had any substantial cavities (two faces of the tooth or more) especially on the outward-facing side of the tooth that other people get to see, then I would think very carefully about choosing to whiten. When your previous dentists treated these cavities, they usually pick filling material to match in color with the tooth's existing shade. Filling material does not accept bleaching. So you could wind up with blotchy teeth if you go nuts and whiten to 11. You could fix it but you'd have to re-fill the cavities.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 1:07 AM on November 19, 2010

I don't know where you're at, but in my area a lot of dentists have free teeth whitening for new patients. If you aren't in love with your dentist it might be worth it for you to shop around and see if you can find one who offers it in your area. The way it works here is you get free whitening with an exam and cleaning, which it seems to me you'd need before getting work done anyway.
posted by TooFewShoes at 6:40 AM on November 19, 2010

Best answer: I got talked into a dentist bleaching before getting veneers on my top 6 teeth, and regret it. It was painful, and I still get the characteristic "sting" to this day sometimes, four+ years later. They explained that I want the shade of the veneers to match the whitest my teeth could be.

Turns out, now I have oversensitive teeth that are a color the dentist could have selected out of a hat instead of making me get bleached. If you're happy with the shade of your teeth - if you think you look just fine - then screw the bleaching. Dentists always ask, "Are you happy with the shade of your teeth?" as if you're expected to say, "No! I want them whiter!" Bleaching isn't covered by insurance. It's a moneymaker, and it's in the dentists' best interest to sell you on this fallacy that bright white is the way to go.

Whiten at home with strips if the dentist has made you insecure about the "whiteness of your smile."
posted by juniperesque at 7:25 AM on November 19, 2010

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