My dentist covered my tetracycline stains with dental bonding five years ago. Now the bonding is dull and starting to chip. I searched the cost of porcelain veneers and even found some online price ranges on dental websites. But I cannot afford veneers. Is there a way to whiten the bonding, or will I have to replace it all? I’m at a new dentist now (since last year), and I would like to know my options before they try to upsell me. Thank you. Fatu from Boston
Thank you for your inquiry. We will provide some information about tetracycline stains and your cosmetic dentistry options.
What Causes Tetracycline Stains in Teeth?
Tetracycline stains develop if you take the antibiotic as a child while your permanent teeth are forming. As a result, deposits in your tooth dentin (layer beneath the enamel) will show up as brown or gray spots or stripes in your teeth.
Treating Tetracycline Stains
An advanced cosmetic dentist can treat tetracycline stains with bleaching treatment, dental bonding, porcelain veneers, or a combination of treatments. But do not try to treat tetracycline stains at home. It can make the stains look even more noticeable.
Dental Bonding for Tetracycline Stains
If you already have dental bonding on your teeth for tetracycline stains, a skilled cosmetic can improve your teeth with these steps:
- Use sandpaper discs to remove the old bonding
- Whiten your teeth with a potent bleaching system
- Apply dental bonding as needed
Dental bonding lasts several years before it needs to be touched up or replaced.
Depending on the severity of the tetracycline stains in your teeth, a dentist may be able to use teeth whitening only to improve the stains. You must use the product as directed. Over-the-counter teeth whitening is not strong enough to affect tetracycline stains, so don’t waste your money on it.
An advanced cosmetic dentist knows how to maintain porcelain’s translucence and hide tetracycline stains. Unfortunately, most general or family dentists do not have advanced cosmetic dentistry training. So although they can give you veneers, they might look chalky or pasty if your dentist doesn’t understand how to provide you with natural-looking results.
What If You Cannot Afford a Cosmetic Dentist?
If you cannot afford a cosmetic dentist, we recommend that you start saving money to get one. An expert cosmetic dentist can replace dental bonding or give you beautiful porcelain veneers. But if you are hasty and get cheap dental bonding, you will need to replace it so often that you will likely wish you had waited until you could afford quality work.
Meanwhile, you can schedule a consultation with an advanced or accredited cosmetic dentist to discuss your options. Then you will have a better idea of how to budget for your smile makeover. And you can learn about payment options to make it affordable.
Michael Szarek, DMD, an accredited cosmetic dentist in Lowell, MA, sponsors this post.