Many people are tempted to self-treat severe tetracycline staining by whitening their teeth or asking their family dentist for porcelain veneers. But this aesthetic issue requires much more skill than most dentists have.
1. What Causes Tetracycline Stains on Teeth?
If you took the antibiotic tetracycline as a child while your permanent teeth were still forming, the antibiotic might be discolored. Most likely, your teeth are grayish brown, and in severe cases, they are very dark.
2. Does Teeth Whitening Help Tetracycline Stains?
The KöR whitening system is so powerful that it can lighten tetracycline stains. Other teeth whitening systems are ineffective for these stains. Although KöR might not completely resolve the issue, it’s less expensive than porcelain veneers and can improve your smile. Keep in mind that your cosmetic dentist might not use KöR as treatment, or it might not be an option for your case.
3. Will Porcelain Veneers Help?
Although some dentists try to cover tetracycline stains with porcelain veneers, the results often don’t look good on your smile. There are several reasons:
- Porcelain needs to be translucent to look natural – But translucency allows the dark stains to show through your veneers.
- Opaque porcelain veneers don’t look natural either – If a dentist chooses to reduce the translucency in your veneers to conceal tetracycline stains, your teeth will look chalky or pasty.
- Full coverage is needed – Often, dentists who lack experience in concealing tetracycline stains cover the fronts of the teeth—not the sides. This technique leaves dark shadows on the edges of your teeth.
The above scenarios attract attention to your smile for the wrong reasons. And that’s what you’re already trying to avoid. But in the hands of a skilled dentist, porcelain veneers can transform your smile.
4. Your Choice of Dentist Matters
Porcelain veneers can conceal tetracycline stains. But it requires the skill of an accomplished cosmetic dentist who understands how to block dark discoloration in your teeth while maintaining translucency in your porcelain veneers. It’s an art that most dentists lack. Aesthetic-driven laboratories craft opalescent porcelains that advanced dentists use to help you smile with confidence.
5. Consult with an Advanced Cosmetic Dentist
We recommend that you search for an accredited cosmetic dentist. Avoid asking your family dentist to try to resolve this issue for you. Most family dentists will taper your teeth and place porcelain crowns over them. Still, if the stains are very dark, crowns won’t completely conceal the discoloration. An accredited cosmetic dentist will preserve most of your natural tooth structure by treating the tetracycline stains with veneers or KöR whitening if appropriate.
During your consultation and exam, ask the accredited cosmetic dentist a few questions:
- What treatment will you use to conceal the tetracycline stains in my teeth?
- What results can I expect?
- How many cases like mine have you completed?
- May I see before-and-after photos of tetracycline cases you’ve treated with porcelain veneers or KöR whitening?
Lowell, MA accredited cosmetic dentist Michael Szarek, DMD sponsors this post.