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.
“Before” photo submitted by website visitor.
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 professional/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.