I have tetracycline stains from medication given to me as a baby. I was told porcelain veneers are the best treatment for this condition. But I simply cannot afford it. I had a dentist put dental bonding on my teeth but they are chipping already. Do you know if Zoom whitening is an option? I’m so sick of hating my smile.
-Jen in California
Tetracycline stains are permanent. For most patients they appear as very dark brown or gray stains. The discoloration occurs in the dentin of the teeth.
As you’ve mentioned, porcelain veneers are one of the ways they can be treated. But the work must be done by an expert cosmetic dentist that is experienced in specifically treating tetracycline stains. Your general family dentist will likely not know how to how to successfully treat them.
But, it sounds like porcelain veneers aren’t an option for you at this time. So, here are a couple more affordable ideas to help improve the appearance of your smile. These treatments won’t be as effective as porcelain veneers. But, they will help.
First, the old dental bonding material needs to be removed, if your enamel is still in tact. It is possible that a hygienist could remove it for you, using sandpaper disks. Having a hygienist do the work instead of a dentist would be less expensive. Then, you should have the dentist get you started on a home teeth whitening treatment. You will want to request the strongest formulation that you can tolerate without experiencing discomfort and sensitivity. You’ll want to keep this up nightly over the course of two months. I know you’re trying to find an affordable way to whiten your teeth, but fight the temptation to use over-the-counter whitening products. They simply aren’t strong enough for tetracycline stains.
Also, you may be interested in Zoom whitening or laser tooth whitening from your dentist. Although your dentist may tell you it is much stronger than at home whitening, it will require multiple rounds of whitening in the office. And with Zoom whitening, you will end up racking up the costs very quickly. With take home trays you will end up with similar results over the course of a couple months, rather than having the expense of multiple rounds of Zoom.
The down side of your situation is if the original dentist removed enamel on the teeth before the dental bonding was placed. If that is the case, you really need to save up and have a cosmetic dentist do porcelain veneers. In the long run, it will deliver the best results and you will be happiest over the long run. In the interim, you could have the dental bonding smoothed out. Having the dental bonding redone every couple years will end up adding up and you’ll be better off saving your money for veneers.
Good luck! Thank you for reaching out. Hopefully this gives you some options.