How to prevent staining at the margins of the porcelain veneers

Porcelain veneers are more resistant to stains than tooth enamel, but is there a product that can be safely used with veneers to bleach the margins of the tooth where stains may build up? Is it okay to use the commercially available bleach products or do those damage the veneers? Although I don’t drink much coffee, I do drink some so I expect there may be a slow buildup over time.
- Kwan from California

Kwan,
I’m not sure what you mean by “commercially available bleach products.”

If you’re talking about whitening toothpastes, most whitening toothpastes would not be effective at all at removing stains at the margins of your porcelain veneers. Those margins are bonding resin, and ordinary or whitening toothpastes tend to be abrasive and thus hard on that bonding resin. Supersmile toothpaste is great for that. It’s effective at removing stains but is non-abrasive.

Tooth bleaching systems that are used in dental offices, such as Nite White, Zoom, Sapphire, Boost, Kor, Opalescence, etc., are all safe for using with porcelain veneers, but they will selectively whiten the teeth and not the veneers or the bonding resin.

I would not use any over-the-counter whiteners, as you could risk damaging your teeth or your porcelain veneers.

The best prevention for those stains at the margins of porcelain veneers is for the dentist to make that margin as undetectable as possible. If the tooth is prepared slightly with a slight edge at the margin of the porcelain veneer, then when the porcelain is bonded to the tooth, the dentist can create a flush margin that is perfectly smooth. Simple flossing will then keep this clean. This is one disadvantage to Lumineers when the teeth aren’t prepared at all – the dentist ends up with a little bump where the porcelain meets the tooth, and that attracts stain.

If those margins become stained in spite of using Supersmile toothpaste and in spite of being made smooth, I would ask your expert cosmetic dentist to have his hygienist polish those with ultra-fine polishing strips.

This blog is sponsored by Naperville cosmetic dentist Dr. David Newkirk.

Polishing porcelain

I have crowns from 25 years ago on my front 3 upper teeth. One broke off and I just got it replaced with a new one. The other two crowns are polished and still look good, no stains. He filed down my new crown to make it fit and it doesn’t feel polished. It feels rough and not so smooth.

My question is if you file a porcelain crown and do not polish it, will it stain from drinking green tea? I like my dentist, but I didn’t pay 1000 for something I would have to still cover my mouth for. Any advice and information you could give me on this is greatly appreciated.
- Tammy from Texas

Tammy,
When a porcelain crown is made, it has a glasslike glaze baked onto the surface of it. This glaze is very stain-resistant, as you know, because you’ve had these other crowns for 25 years and they haven’t stained at all. But if a dentist has to grind on the front surface of a porcelain crown, that removes the glaze. The best practice when this happens would be to send that crown back to the dental laboratory and have a new glaze baked onto it. Otherwise, there are special ultra-fine diamond polishers that can be used on the porcelain to give it a glaze-like surface.

If neither one of these things has been done, then yes, the porcelain surface will feel a little rough and it will pick up stains easily.

If I were you, I would go back to my dentist and insist that this front surface be polished, because, yes, it will stain and will look bad. If your dentist doesn’t know how to polish porcelain, he can easily find out. A dental company called Brasseler makes excellent porcelain polishers, and he could just call the sales rep who would be happy to supply him with everything he needs as well as instructions in how to use them.

This blog sponsored by Naperville cosmetic dentist Dr. David Newkirk