Lightening teeth that have tetracycline staining using teeth-whitening treatments.

This digital makeover illustrates how tooth-whitening treatments might be used to correct, or at least substantially improve, the color of teeth darkened by tetracycline staining.

And although this type of approach may not provide the same "perfect" results as other treatments (such as placing a set of porcelain veneers), as explained below, it offers some distinct advantages.

Case history and concerns:

  • For the most part, this person is happy with the overall shape and alignment of their teeth.
  • Their main concern is simply the dark color of their teeth.
  • While we don't have a lot of information about the cause of this discoloration, its grey tint hints at tetracycline staining.
  • From what we can ascertain from this photo, this person's mouth appears to be healthy. The teeth appear to be sound and not in need of any type of extensive dental work. They just need a color change.
  • Teeth that have tetracycline staining.
    Teeth that have tetracycline staining. Teeth that have tetracycline staining.
  • The smile has been lightened using teeth-whitening treatments.
    The smile has been lightened using teeth-whitening treatments. The smile has been lightened using teeth-whitening treatments.
 

Photo submitted by website visitor.

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Treatment Solutions:

Approach #1) Attempt to lighten this smile using teeth-whitening treatments. -

It's possible that this case might be treated just by utilizing some type of at-home or in-office tooth-whitening treatments (or a combination of both). This is what we have illustrated in our "after" picture.

a) The results probably won't be perfect. -

While the outcome of any type of whitening process can be difficult to predict, it is a fairly simple and relatively inexpensive procedure. It's certainly one that's worth a try.

We'd be the first to say that its results are unlikely to be as cosmetically perfect as if some type of restorations, such as porcelain veneers, were placed. But, as we discuss below, there are advantages of a just-whitening approach and it can help to set the stage for a more life-like veneering outcome if that treatment is needed.

b) The whitening process will require some commitment. -

Tetracycline tooth staining has a reputation for being difficult to treat. Being successful usually requires a highly motivated patient (and dentist). An extended number of treatments may be required.

c) Touch-up whitening will be needed. -

The original bleaching effect gained can be expected to fade over time. But renewing it (probably just by performing at-home treatments) can be expected to be much easier and cheaper than the initial round of whitening.


Approach #2) If tooth whitening doesn't produce acceptable results, place veneers. -

Placing porcelain veneers could be another way to treat this same case. And when compared to teeth-whitening treatments, it can probably offer the more predictable cosmetic outcome, although at a much greater expense.

The downside to this approach is that no dental work lasts forever. Once veneers have been placed, there will be a time when they need to be replaced. So, even though their end result may be more ideal aesthetically, the time, cost, and maintenance requirements they impose may make the less-perfect solution (teeth whitening) the more attractive alternative.

a) Lightening the teeth first can improve the outcome of a veneering case. -

There can be a benefit to whitening teeth (to whatever degree) before a set of porcelain veneers is placed. In fact, whitening treatments are sometimes used as the initial step of this process. Here's why.

When veneers are used to change the color of teeth (like dark tetracycline staining), they must be opaque enough to mask the color of the stained tooth underneath. However, it's a veneer's translucency that creates its life-like appearance. So, if the starting color of the teeth can be lightened first, at least a little bit, the porcelain veneers that are placed can be relatively less opaque and more translucent, therefore giving a relatively more natural appearance.

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Input from site visitors.

Teeth Whitening

I got older > health required medication prescriptions. I have tried a lot of things to help whiten my teeth. I don't smile much because I am embarrassed. I used to smile a lot. > A smile a day keeps trouble away< > SMILE... make people wonder what you are up to> > Smile at everyone - it just might make their day a little happier< I know this is probably a very stupid question--do you accept Medicaid? And, if so, would Medicaid pay for whitening my teeth due to genetics and medications? I am nearly 60 yrs old and I have lost my smile. Is their anyway you could help me find my smile? My e-mail is (edited by admin).

Allonna,

Allonna,
We need to point out, Animated-Teeth.com doesn't provide any type of dental services at all.

We create digital makeovers for people who have submitted their photo simply as a way of helping them (and the public in general) become aware of the types of changes their own dentist can likely make for them.
--
We don't have any knowledge about the Medicaid system. 3rd party providers typically don't pay for procedures that only serve a cosmetic function. But, and similar to the way you describe, sometimes the circumstances associated with a condition give it a different priority.

Possibly a website visitor might have first-hand experience with this type of situation and could better answer your question and could post it here.
--
You post: "I have tried a lot of things..."

Clearly some types of tooth staining are harder to resolve than others (tetracyline), some of which may require extended treatment time to achieve the type of results desired.

As far as the technique used, all forms teeth whitening boil down to two issues: 1) Whitener concentration and 2) A tooth's total exposure time to it. That's why professional in-office treatments (high concentration/short treatment time) and at-home systems (low concentration/longer treatment times) can be equally effective.

With at-home systems, some are typically considered to be more effective than others. Dentist-dispensed tray-based system (and the dentist's knowledge that comes with it) are usually regarded as the best.

Over-the-counter systems (tray based or strips) may provide a reasonably effective alternative. (Some dentists choose to dispense whitening strip products to their patients as opposed to a tray system).

While it's really impossible for us to know what's best for your situation (that's what consulting with your dentist can provide), we will say that with diligence and effort some people (although we're sure it's the exception and not the rule) have been able to achieve fairly remarkable results, with at-home technique.

Best regards.

Solution to tetracycline stained teeth

I have similar case of dark brown teeth from birth or as long as I can remember and would want a solution. Please contact me. Thanks.

Cherry,

Once you've decided that you're interested in making a change, the next step is consulting with your dentist (or possibly getting an opinion from more than one dentist).

Depending on the cause and intensity of your tooth discoloration, it might be possible to resolve it using whitening treatments (in office or possibly even at-home).

In cases where that approach seems unlikely to produce an acceptable outcome, the discoloration can instead be masked over (like with porcelain veneers).

Either way, only your local dentist, and only after examining you, can make a determination about which approaches offer a possible solution.

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