I am in college and am so embarrassed by the way my smile looks. I have tried tooth whitening and over-the-counter products, and I am beginning to lose hope. The problem is that I have tetracycline stains and I am beginning to think that not every dentist is equipped for the challenge. The last dentist I went to see recommended replacing nearly all my front teeth with porcelain crowns. The price tag was outrageous and I am skeptical about his motives. It didn’t sound like he has a lot of experience treating tetracycline stains for other patients. The more research I do, I am feeling like this isn’t a routine condition or treatment plan. Do you think I should go to a cosmetic dentist to see if there are other options?
I just want to be able to smile and not think about it anymore. However, I don’t have the kind of money that the dentist quoted me. Please let me know if you have any recommendations.
-Cara in Arizona
Thank you for your question. They always say to listen to your gut. If you are getting the inclination that the dentist who recommended replacing your teeth with porcelain crowns doesn’t feel right, there is likely a reason for that. To get your teeth replaced with porcelain crowns is an aggressive treatment plan. When a dentist prepares your teeth for crowns, a large portion of your natural tooth structure is removed. So, if the teeth are otherwise healthy, it is very invasive to take that step. And with crowns, there is no turning back. Once the natural tooth structure is removed, it’s gone for good. It is quite possible that this dentist isn’t experienced in cosmetic dentistry techniques. Also, in order to successfully treat tetracycline stains requires a high level of expertise that only a very small percentage of cosmetic dentists possess.
The good news is that it is possible to get you smiling again. But, it may require a second opinion or even multiple consultations by expert cosmetic dentists. Not just any dentist down the street can tackle this particular concern. The tetracycline-stained teeth are a result of the overuse of the antibiotic tetracycline when you were a child most likely.
When you find the right cosmetic dentist that is experienced in successfully treating tetracycline stains, you will have other options. Porcelain veneers are a much less invasive treatment. They are placed on the surface of the tooth and only require a tiny portion of your teeth be removed to prepare them for the veneers. This important step creates a seamless transition between your natural tooth and the porcelain veneer. Like it was mentioned before, less than two percent of dentists actually have the skill required to address something like this.
You can see an example of how porcelain veneers can improve a smile in the before and after image.
The stains are very difficult to cover. The average person doesn’t realize the distinction between an excellent cosmetic dentist and a general dentist. This is in part due to the fact that cosmetic dentistry is not a nationally-recognized specialty area within the field of dentistry. This means that any dentist can make the claim to do porcelain veneers or other cosmetic dentistry treatments. And many patients will take them at their word. Sometimes, these general dentists really do have the best intentions to help. But, they just do not have the dedicated training and expertise to achieve a beautiful result. Sadly, we hear of far too many cosmetic dentistry horror stories.
A general dentist is trained to fix things. Contrast that perspective with an expert cosmetic dentist who is passionate about the aesthetics and creating a beautiful smile you will be proud to show off. Of course a cosmetic dentist wants the end result to function well. But, they won’t be satisfied unless you absolutely love your new smile.
So, it is possible to get your tetracycline stains fixed. You just need to be patient and be sure you find a cosmetic dentist that has advanced credentials in cosmetic dentistry, as well as examples of success treating other many tetracycline cases. Ask to see photos, learn more about their treatment plans, and in the end, you will get the smile you deserve.
Thank you for your question. Hopefully, this information is helpful as you continue the search for the right cosmetic dentist to meet your needs.
This post is sponsored by Barrington cosmetic dentist James T. Gavrilos, DDS.