Skip to Content

Can you whiten bonded teeth?

Teeth whitening has become an increasingly popular cosmetic treatment over the years. With brighter, whiter smiles portrayed across media and advertising, it’s no wonder many people desire to improve the color of their teeth. While over-the-counter whitening products are readily available, professional whitening treatments performed by your dentist provide the most dramatic results. However, if you have dental work like bonded restorations or other tooth-colored fillings, you may be wondering if whitening treatments will work or if they could damage those restorations. Read on to find out more about how whitening interacts with bonded teeth.

What are bonded teeth?

Bonded restorations refer to tooth-colored composite resin material that is applied directly onto the tooth surface and shaped to repair chips, cracks, gaps, or other imperfections in the enamel. The composite bonds directly to the natural tooth structure for a seamless appearance. Types of dental bonding include:

  • Bonding to repair chipped, cracked, or fractured teeth
  • Closing gaps between teeth
  • Reshaping uneven or irregular teeth
  • Covering stained or discolored tooth enamel

Unlike dental crowns or veneers which require reshaping the underlying tooth, bonding is a more conservative option that preserves natural tooth structure. The composite resin material matches the shade of your surrounding teeth and can last 5-10 years with proper care. Over time, bonding may chip, stain, or even pop off if placing too much biting force on it.

How does teeth whitening work?

Professional whitening treatments involve using concentrated hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide as the active bleaching ingredient. This whitening gel is applied directly onto the teeth, then specialized lights and heat are used to accelerate and enhance the bleaching effects. Several repeated rounds of whitening are done over 30-60 minutes to gradually lighten tooth color by a few shades. It works by penetrating the enamel and dentin to reach the inner layers of the tooth where stains reside. The peroxide acts as an oxidizing agent to break up stain compounds, effectively decomposing the molecules.

Over-the-counter whitening strips, gels, and toothpastes contain lower concentrations of whitening agents. Therefore, results are more gradual and it may take weeks of consistent use to notice a visible difference in tooth shade. With professional in-office whitening, dramatic color change is seen after just one 60-minute session due to the higher peroxide concentration.

Can you whiten bonded teeth?

The good news is yes, bonded teeth can be whitened safely and effectively! Since bonded restorations like composite resin fillings and veneers are porous, the whitening gel is able to reach the inner layers so results are similar to natural tooth enamel.

However, there are a few important things to keep in mind:

  • Bonded restorations may not whiten at the same rate as natural teeth. The composite material does not contain dentin which is a key layer targeted in whitening treatments. This means bonded teeth may remain slightly darker than surrounding natural teeth after the procedure.
  • A bonded restoration will not change color beyond its original shade. For example, if a tooth-colored filling was placed to match the former natural tooth color, it cannot change any lighter than this baseline shade.
  • In rare cases, highly concentrated peroxide gel can degrade composite resin over time. Therefore, it’s recommended to inform your dentist about any bonded work so they can tailor the treatment safely.

With the proper technique and materials, whitening treatments are generally safe for those with bonded teeth. However, the results may not be as dramatic or uniform compared to natural unrestored teeth. Speak to your dentist if you have any concerns prior to undergoing professional whitening.

Does the type of material matter?

Yes, the composition of the bonded restoration can impact how well it whitens. Composite resin is the most common material used in bonding for the anterior visible teeth. It readily accepts whitening to match surrounding teeth very well. Other materials like porcelain and zirconia used for crowns or veneers are less porous, making it more difficult for peroxide to penetrate the layers. Here is how different restoration types compare:

Restoration Material Whitening Compatibility
Composite Resin Excellent, similar to natural enamel
Porcelain Moderate, less permeable than composite
Zirconia Low, more resistant to whitening agents
Gold or Metallic Not effective, metal does not change color

As shown, the most predictable whitening results occur for tooth-colored composite restorations. Porcelain and zirconia may lighten slightly, but the color change is minimal. Gold, amalgam, or other metal surfaces do not respond to whitening at all.

Should bonding shade be matched first?

For optimal results, it is recommended to have any bonded teeth matched to the current tooth shade prior to whitening treatments. This ensures the bonding blends seamlessly now and stays matched even after lightening all the teeth. Trying to adjust bonding color after whitening is more challenging.

If whitening is already done and the bonded area remains noticeably darker, a dental appointment can be scheduled to replace the bonding with a lighter shade matched to the new tooth color. However, this involves removing the existing bonded material, then bonding the tooth again which is an added cost and requires more work.

Starting off with well-matched bonding that integrates with your smile can make the whitening process more seamless and improve the final result. The before and after will look natural and uniform.

Can whitening damage bonded teeth?

When performed correctly, whitening is safe for bonded restorations. However, there are some risks to be aware of:

  • Using a concentration that is too high – more than 20% hydrogen peroxide can chemically degrade composite over time, causing it to break down.
  • Inadequate isolation during the procedure – whitening gel should only be applied to the teeth, not on the gums. This prevents irritation and burns.
  • Poor curing of the bonding – if resin was not properly set during placement, the peroxide gel can seep underneath and cause bonding failure.

To prevent any adverse effects, always see an experienced dentist for professional whitening. They will evaluate your dental work, choose a safe peroxide strength, and properly isolate the teeth from gums and soft tissues. Using take-home trays without supervision is riskier for those with extensive dental restorations. With the right precautions, you can safely transform the color of bonded and natural teeth alike.

How long does it last?

Results from in-office whitening can last anywhere from 1-3 years. However, there is some recession that occurs in the first 6 months as teeth re-hydrate and settle into their new color. Avoiding staining foods and drinks as well as tobacco use will help sustain your bright smile for longer. Here are some longevity guidelines:

  • In-office whitening – 1-2 years
  • Take-home trays from dentist – 1-3 years
  • Over-the-counter products – a few weeks to 3 months

You may choose to do periodic touch-up whitening 1-2 times per year to maintain results. This is safer than undergoing intensive whitening at each visit. Whitening is not generally recommended more than once annually as extensive repeated use can cause tooth sensitivity or gum irritation.

Aftercare tips

Follow these self-care tips after completing teeth whitening treatments to extend the longevity of your brightened smile:

  • Avoid staining foods and drinks for 1-2 weeks like coffee, tea, red wine, dark sodas, tomato sauce, curry, berries, etc.
  • Quit tobacco if a user – smoking and chewing tobacco will quickly counteract whitening.
  • Use an enamel-safe toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth if needed.
  • Brush gently and floss daily to maintain results and oral health.
  • See your dentist if you experience pain, sensitivity or changes to dental work.
  • Consider take-home trays for occasional touch-ups to maintain your smile.

Following professional whitening, it takes about a week for the teeth shade to fully settle into the new color. Be patient with the process and avoid anything that will re-stain the enamel during this time. With proper oral care and touch-up whitening sessions every 6-12 months, your smile can stay bright for years to come.

Considerations for whitening bonded teeth

Here are a few final tips when whitening bonded teeth:

  • Consult your dentist about any dental work concerns before whitening.
  • Whitening works best on composite resin restorations.
  • Results may not be as dramatic or uniform as natural teeth.
  • Have bonding shade matched first for most seamless results.
  • Use caution with over-the-counter products if you have extensive dental work.
  • Protect gums and soft tissues from irritation during treatment.
  • Maintain results by avoiding staining foods and using take-home trays periodically.

While bonded teeth can be safely whitened, working closely with your dentist is key to success. Be sure to communicate any dental work or concerns you have prior to treatment. Follow your dentist’s instructions carefully both during and after the procedure. With the proper technique, even those with bonded restorations can enjoy a brighter, more confident smile.


Teeth whitening has become a popular cosmetic treatment to improve the color and appearance of your smile. Stained, discolored teeth can be lightened by several shades with professional whitening methods like in-office laser treatment or customized take-home trays prescribed by your dentist. These procedures are also safe and effective for those with dental bonding or other tooth-colored restorations like composite fillings and porcelain veneers.

However, it’s important to communicate with your dentist about any dental work prior to whitening so they can tailor the treatment accordingly. While bonded teeth can lighten beautifully, the results may not be as dramatic or uniform as natural unrestored teeth. Proper technique and matching bonding shade ahead of time helps ensure the most natural, seamless outcome. With the right precautions, advice, and maintenance, your brightened smile can last 1-3 years. Whitening can restore self-confidence and transform your appearance. Just be sure to see your dentist to determine if you’re a good candidate.