Concealing tetracycline stains in teeth is one of the most challenging issues a dentist will ever face. But a highly skilled cosmetic dentist can conceal the stains with porcelain veneers and provide natural-looking results.
What Causes Tetracycline Stains in Teeth?
The stains develop due to taking tetracycline, an antibiotic, during childhood while permanent teeth are forming. Grayish brown stains become deeply embedded in teeth and cause them to look very dark.
Why Is Concealing the Stains So Challenging?
Although the stains can be concealed with porcelain veneers, there are challenges:
- Natural teeth have translucency, and porcelain needs to have this same quality to look lifelike.
- Tetracycline stains can easily show through translucent veneers.
- In an effort to conceal tetracycline stains, a dentist or laboratory technician might make porcelain veneers too opaque. The result is chalky looking teeth.
- Due to lack of experience with concealing the stains, some dentists cover only the fronts of teeth. The dark color from the stains can be seen on the edges of teeth.
Achieving the Best Results with Porcelain Veneers
Skillful color manipulation is needed to provide natural-looking results. We recommend that you visit a dentist who is accredited by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry or a dentist who can show you photographs of his or her own work on a patient’s teeth that had tetracycline stains.
Your treatment plan should include a try-in of the porcelain veneers before they are bonded to your teeth. Otherwise, you should request the try-in to ensure your investment is worthwhile and the results look natural. If you have any hesitation about the look of the veneers—if the tetracycline stains are showing through them—don’t accept them. The dentist and his or her laboratory need to ensure your veneers look natural.
A family dentist who is not skilled in aesthetics will likely offer you porcelain crowns to conceal tetracycline stains. But this treatment requires significant removal of tooth structure on every tooth that needs a crown. Porcelain veneers are more conservative, and a cosmetic dentist can produce beautiful results.
You can schedule consultations with at least two cosmetic dentists who will briefly look at your teeth and discuss the possibilities for concealing the tetracycline stains with porcelain veneers. A full exam will be needed to accurately explain your options and provide a treatment estimate.
This post is sponsored by Lowell, MA dentist Dr. Michael Szarek—an accredited member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry.