Today I was told I have a cavity. My first cavity. I was shocked. Before I recovered from that golden news nugget, I received a second shock. My dentist said if I want to get my teeth whitened, I should do it now before I fill my cavity. Once the filling is done, the color can’t be changed. I didn’t even realize I needed teeth whitening until he said something. Now, when I look in the mirror I see yellow everywhere! But, I looked it up and while he’s right that the color can’t be changed, I also read that you shouldn’t have your teeth whitened when you have a cavity. So…which is it?
Hannah H. – Montana
You’re in one of those catch-22 situations. There is evidence that your teeth are more sensitive to the whitening procedure with decay. The theory is because some of the enamel is weakened, it allows the whitening gel to get that much closer to the nerves.
There isn’t any evidence to support that teeth whitening worsens the cavity or weakens the enamel. The only real concern to having teeth whitening done while having decay is that of sensitivity. So, if you think you could handle that, there’s no real concern. If, however, the potential for sensitivity terrifies you there is another option, though it will admittedly it costs more.
You could fill the cavity, then get your teeth whitened. Then, re-do the filling to match the new color. That is very inconvenient and incurs unnecessary expenses, so it’s definitely not ideal. But, the inconvenience in time and added expense is yours to choose or reject. You may find the peace of mind to not fear additional sensitivity well worth any additional time or funds.
There’s not a right or wrong choice. No one will judge you as being weak if you choose to do the filling twice. And no one will think you foolish and cheap for doing the whitening first. It’s truly a matter of whatever your preference is.
This blog is brought to you by Dr. Duane Delaune.