I have tetracycline stains. Years ago, I invested in dental bonding to make them look better. They were massively expensive and, while my teeth looked better, I always thought given the price I should have liked them more. The bonding is now stained and chipping. I know it needs to be replaced but I can’t afford that or porcelain veneers, which I now know would have been the better treatment. Is there any other option for me, like teeth whitening, that can at least brighten the teeth?
I am very glad you wrote. There are a few things going on here. If you had dental bonding to cover all of your tooth structure, then that would have cost at least (and very likely more) than porcelain veneers. This is because bonding has to be done freehand and is very time-consuming. Unfortunately, as you’ve discovered, even though the cost was high for you, dental bonding does not last nearly as long as porcelain veneers. I wish your dentist would have told you this. To make matters worse for you, he didn’t even give you a beautiful result.
For those who don’t know, tetracycline stains develop when a child is given the tetracycline medication while their teeth are still forming. They are dark and extraordinarily difficult to deal with. See the image directly below.
If you can’t afford porcelain veneers, it is possible to make a difference with teeth whitening, with some caveats. First, teeth whitening does NOT work on dental bonding. It will only whiten natural tooth structure. That means the first thing you’ll need to determine is how your dentist approached your dental bonding procedure.
- If your dentist placed your bonding over intact enamel, you will need to have your dentist gently remove the bonding from the tooth with sandpaper disks. He needs to be careful to leave the enamel intact. Once the bonding material is removed, your dentist will need to set you up with some teeth whitening trays, such as the ones pictured at the top of this post. You will also need the strongest whitening gel available that you can tolerate to use with the trays. If you are persistent enough and wear them for several months your teeth will get lighter. They will not be as white and bright as they would with porcelain veneers, but it will be a definite improvement.
- Unfortunately, if your dentist removed your enamel, there is no way to whiten your teeth as a solution. The only thing to do is start saving up for porcelain veneers. In the meantime, you could have someone even out the bonding and polish it up a bit.
One word of warning if you can do the teeth whitening. You will want to do the tray only. Don’t let your dentist talk you into anything like Zoom Whitening or Laser Whitening. Yes, they are stronger than the trays, but the number of procedures you would have to do to get the results you want would not be cost-effective. It will be much more affordable to do it with the trays.
This blog is brought to you by Hoffman Estates Dentist Dr. William Becker.