What is my Best Bet to Treat my Tetracycline Stained Teeth?

I have heard so many mixed reviews about veneers and lumineers that I'm not just confused. Could bonding even work? I'm afraid of lasting pain or sensitivity after a procedure and would just like a natural, lasting, painless smile. What would be the best option for me?

Doctor Answers 12

Keep it Conservative

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Many patients in your shoes are confused as to how to best handle those ugly tetracycline stains.  In years past, those patients that were not committed to veneers or crowns did nothing and just lived with it.  If your teeth are not pitted or mottled, and you are happy with the shape, there is a good conservative alternative treatment.  It is called KOR deep bleaching and yes it does work and with very little sensitivity.  The drawback to this is that it will require 4-6 weeks of treatment (at home, while sleeping) and routine touch-ups to maintain the shade.  Get more information about it online

Philadelphia Dentist

Tetracycline Stained Teeth are Hard to Treat

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Tetracycline teeth are challenging to treat.  You can always start conservatively and  alter treatment as you go.  1-Try KOR WHITENING first.  Look it up on the Internet and check out the web site.  I would start there.  Tetracycline teeth are very grey- the KOR WHITENING will take out the yellow-You may still have a whiter grey but then you can evaluate if you want whiter teeth.  It WORKS.   2- Porcelain veneers are the next step but to mask the grey they will need to have some opaque-the grey can show through. Choose your dentist carefully.  3-For extreme issues including tetracycline stain and crooked teeth you may need to go to EMAX crowns.  They are inherently opaque and can be an option but definatley an agressive treatment.  Much success-

Wendy S. Spektor, DDS
Bellevue Dentist

Esthetic treatment for tetracycline teeth

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Tetracycline teeth can be quite a disturbing factor due to the nature of internal stain. There are the ways to improve the aesthetic look of the smile with minimal discomfort. Porcelain veneers can cover the darkened areas of enamel. Usually lumineers are not the great option because they are very thin and dark enamel can show through. Local anesthesia, mild pain control medications can decrease any sensitivity and give the long-lasting smile. Bonding of large anterior areas on central teeth doesn`t give very pleasing results and very often requires the touch-ups. 

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Thin porcelain veneers are your best choice

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I do understand your concerns and it's natural to be kind of confused with the differing opinions that you will hear. 

I hope I can help you understand the differences and help give you the best advice for the goals you listed - natural, lasting & painless.  Porcelain veneers is your best option.  Saying that, not all porcelain veneers are the same.  If you chief concern is tetracycline stains and your teeth arrangement (orthodontic relationship) is already very good - then very thin porcelain veneers will be perfect for you.  With thin veneers, your dentist will make small and minor preparations to your existing teeth to support the new porcelain that will mask your tetracycline.  This will be the best of all worlds for you.  Very little discomfort (if any), a very strong and long lasting smile that is both beautiful and natural.  I wish you the best with your new smile!

Greg Lutke, DDS
Plano Dentist

Porcelain Veneers for Tetracycline Teeth

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Teeth whitening would not work for you if your teeth are tetracycline stained.  Teeth bleaching systems only remove what are called extrinsic stains (coffee, tea , red wine, etc.).  Tetracycline cases are treated with porcelain veneers giving excellent results.  Most cases can be done in two visits and your new smile will look stunning. Veneers can be made to give you the natural look that you are searching for.  Good luck. 

Tetracycline stained teeth - what are your options

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In my opinion I would veneer your teeth, I have whitened many tetracylcine teeth with a procedure called KoR Whitening with terrific results but I think in your case placing veneers would be the better option. 

I feel that a veneer is the least invasive procedure.  By reducing the surface of the tooth appropriately, the porcelain can be made thick enough to mask the discoloration and retain the natural shape and appearance of the tooth.  I do not think Lumineers are a good choice, they are an inexpensive knock off of the traditional veneer and do not work well in your situation.

I would choose the veneer option

Good luck with whatever decision you make

Leonard Tau, DMD
Philadelphia Dentist
5.0 out of 5 stars 3 reviews

What to do for tetracycline-stained teeth

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Porcelain veneers offer the best esthetics while providing the most conservative option to mask those tetracycline-stained teeth.  Cosmetic bonding may not block out the underlying color, may not be as stain-resistant, and may not last as long as porcelain restorations.  On the other extreme, porcelain crowns are not as conservative as veneers but do offer comparable esthetics since they are also made of porcelain.  When done properly, porcelain veneers can last a long time with no sensitivity.

Hiding Tetracycline Stains

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Unlike foods and smoking which stain the surface of the teeth, tetracycline is absorbed into the tooth structure as it is forming anf growing.  It is an internal discoloration.  Tooth whitening will not succeed in masking this type of discoloration.  Plastic composite bonding can be used to hide the stains, but over time the composites will stain, margins break down and the restoration loose it's aesthetics.

I feel that a veneer is the least invasive procedure.  By reducing the surface of the tooth appropriately, the porcelain can be made thick enough to mask the discoloration and retain the natural shape and appearance of the tooth.  I do not think Lumineers are a good choice, they are an inexpensive knock off of the traditional veneer and do not work well in your situation.

Another alternative would be a crown.  Choosing between and veneer and crown would be dependent on whether there are significant dental restorations existing in these teeth already. 

Marc Zive, DMD
Springfield Dentist

Veneers for Tetracycline Stained Teeth

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I'd like to help you clear up your confusion: Go with Veneers.  Your tetracycline staining will not be helped with teeth whitening.  Bonding over tetracycline staining can be really hit and miss and often requires the removal of more tooth structure than veneers would to attain proper tooth contours and mask the staining.  Unfortunately Lumineers are often used as the poor man's veneers.  You won't find many top cosmetic dentists that use them.  You certainly won't see anyone passing AACD accreditation with them.  Ultimately, Lumineers are just a brand name of veneers.  Getting 'certified' in providing Lumineers is drastically quicker and cheaper than going through a full cosmetic dentistry continuum, accreditation, or fellowship, hence why many dentists choose the Lumineers option.  You will get a far more esthetically pleasing result from a highly trained cosmetic dentist using a top tier porcelain lab that specializes in esthetics.

As for the concern about sensitivity, minimal prep is great, no prep is even better but the reality is that no prep veneers (as Lumineers are frequently and IMO, erroneously, marketed) are rarely an option.  Maintaining a proper emergence profile and tooth contour is vital not just for esthetics but also the health of your gums.  If the margins are properly finished and the veneers properly bonded by your dentist there will rarely ever be post-op sensitivity.

Stephen Sulzbach, DMD
Norristown Dentist

Options for tetracycline-stained teeth

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As you know, the tetracycline-staining is intrinsic--meaning, it is a part of your tooth.  The best option for you would be porcelain restorations, whether they are veneers, 3/4 crowns, or full crowns.  Composite resin bonding to correct the tetracycline staining is usually not very pleasing esthetically.

The porcelain restorations should not result in pain or sensitivity, although this is a risk with any restorative procedure.  The porcelain restorations will however produce the natural long-lasting smile you are seeking.

Lumineers are extremely case-specific.  I have found very few patients that would benefit from lumineers due to the inability to produce a "natural" look like you desire.

Chad Colson, DMD
Greenville Dentist

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.