I have had tetracycline stains on my teeth since childhood. All the research says to put porcelain veneers on your teeth to cover them but my dentist doesn’t do porcelain veneers. He does do crowns, which he has suggested we use. Even that, however, is out of my reach. Are there any other alternatives?
I am very glad you wrote. For the benefit of others reading, who may not know what tetracycline stains are (pictured above), I am going to give a brief explanation. Tetracycline is a prescription medication. If you take it before your permanent teeth are formed, which generally happens at the age of twelve, it will deposit in the dentin of your teeth and show up as a dark brown or gray stains.
The best solution to this is porcelain veneers, which would need to be done in the hands of an expert cosmetic dentist. Covering tetracycline stains is one of the most advanced and tricky procedures dentists have to do. They have to make the cover opaque enough to cover the dark stains, but still translucent enough to look sparkling and natural.
Some family dentists who are not skilled in cosmetic dentistry try to make up for this by doing porcelain crowns. I will be honest with you, any dentist that suggests dental crowns for this is a big red flag. They are telling you, “I can’t do porcelain veneers, but I’m totally willing to grind down healthy tooth structure to rake in money for what I do know.” If they don’t do porcelain veneers, they are not skilled enough in cosmetic work to make these crowns look good. Even most dentists who do porcelain veneers don’t have the skills for tetracycline stains.
Tetraycycline Stains and No Money
You have a few options. First, you can leave the teeth as they are while saving up for the high-end (and higher priced) procedure. This obviously would depend on how long it would take you to reach your goal.
Second, you can have teeth whitening done. When you do this, know that it won’t be done in one tube of gel. In fact, you will have to be persistent, but if you are, it will work. One thing to note is I don’t recommend Zoom Whitening for this. It is more expensive than the take-home trays whitening. It is a fantastic whitener, but you will need too many sessions for it to be financially do-able for you. Of course, you could do one zoom appointment to get a jump start and then do the rest with trays. As far as tray teeth whittening goes, see if your dentist offers or is willing to purchase kör whitening for you. This is the most potent gel available.
Your final option is to have the teeth whitening done while saving up. This allows you to make some progress if it is going to take you a long time to get to the cost goal. If you choose this, you may even find you are happy enough with your whitening results that you no longer feel the need for porcelain veneers. Just bear in mind it will take a while for the whitening to really make a difference.
This blog is brought to you by East Cobb Dentist Dr.Cristi Cheek.