Can You Whiten Your Teeth When Some of Them Are Chipped?

Dentist Blog

Teeth whitening is most effective when teeth are already in a good condition, aside from the discolouration that made you want to whiten them in the first place. But surely a few minor chips in your teeth won't prevent you from getting the results you want?

Your Dental Enamel

Whitening your teeth is essentially bleaching them, and since it's a topical treatment, it only treats your dental enamel, which is the strong mineralised compound that coats your teeth. The trouble is that chips, even minor ones, may have caused a breach in your enamel, exposing the underlying dentin, which forms the bulk of your teeth.

Teeth Whitening and Your Dentin

When you whiten your teeth at home, you're likely to see noticeable results — to a point. The results you notice with chipped teeth aren't necessarily the results you want. Any whitening of your dentin will be negligible (if it happens at all). While your enamel will become a lighter shade, the dentin exposed by the chips in your teeth will barely change colour, potentially leading to a patchy effect. It's not only this aesthetic concern that's a problem either.

Dentin Tubules

Applying the bleaching agent contained in whitening treatments to dentin can create serious issues. Your dentin contains numerous microscopic canals known as dentin tubules, which stretch from the outward edge of the dentin back into the tooth's pulp chamber, which is where the tooth's nerve is found. If any of the bleaching agent was to seep into these tubules (which is a real possibility), you might inadvertently aggravate the tooth's nerve. This can be uncomfortable and even rather painful. So how can you whiten your teeth when some of them are chipped?

Dental Bonding

You should see your dentist to have these chipped teeth addressed. Since you haven't sought treatment before, it's unlikely that these chips are major, and as such, your dentist can restore the chipped portions with dental bonding. This is simply restoring the tooth's structure with dental resin or cement. However, you should tell your dentist that you plan on whitening your teeth when it's appropriate to proceed. This will influence the shade of the bonding material they use.


Your dentist can whiten your teeth for you, taking care to achieve the same shade as the portions restored with bonding. It's impossible to get such precise results with an at-home whitening kit, which is why the treatment should be performed by a dentist. You will need to occasionally repeat the treatment in order to maintain your results.

Your chipped teeth will have been repaired and then whitened, addressing all your concerns at once. Talk to a dentist if you are interested in teeth whitening


20 May 2021

Teeth And Tears: Dental Dramas Of A School Nurse

I have worked as a school nurse for decades. Children come to me with all sorts of scrapes and bumps and bruises. Black eyes from playing football, sprained wrists from falling off the monkey bars and stomachaches from too many sweets are common complaints. However, the issue that seems to cause the greatest angst is tooth problems. Sometimes a child will have a second tooth knocked out when playing sport and parents arrive in tears. At other times, children come to my office crying because their friends are teasing them about teeth that are discoloured or stick out. I take an active interest in the latest dental news so that I can give parents and children comfort and advice. I have included some of my collected wisdom on these pages. Perhaps this information can help you understand some options when faced with a dental problem. Thank you for reading.