How do I go about finding the best cosmetic dentist in Barrington, IL for tetracycline stains? My tetracycline stains are really dark. I’ve been to a general dentist and they are recommending I see a cosmetic dentist. I don’t know how to go about finding the best cosmetic dentist in my area.
My job keeps me in the public eye. So, a beautiful smile is important. It truly makes a difference and I feel like I’m at a major disadvantage. One of the cosmetic dentists I’ve seen is recommending porcelain crowns to cover the stains. I got a second opinion from another cosmetic dentist near Barrington, and he wants to do three crowns and the remaining teeth with porcelain veneers. But, this combined approach is over my budget. Will the results be better with porcelain veneers too? I’m feeling confused.
-Gena in Illinois
Cosmetic dentistry is an art. Not every dentist can do beautiful work. It take extensive cosmetic dentistry training beyond dental school and advanced training to be able to create a beautiful smile. And covering tetracycline stains is one of the most difficult cosmetic dentistry procedures. It requires a high level of skill in color manipulation, a skill that isn’t taught in dental school.
Tetracycline stains can be quite dark. And the thing that is surprising to a dentist not experienced in treating them is that when the teeth are reduced a little to make space for the porcelain veneers, they become even darker. The deeper the dentist goes into the tooth, the darker the stains are. A general family dentist will make one or more of four mistakes in treating this:
- They will use a porcelain veneer that has some translucency. While this works for the vast majority of smile makeover cases, with tetracycline stains this will allow the very dark color to show through to one degree or another, leaving an appearance that has some gray-brown color in the teeth. This usually isn’t what the patient is expecting.
- They will use a porcelain veneer that is completely opaque. While the underlying color will be covered, this leaves the patient with pasty fake-looking teeth.
- They won’t wrap the porcelain veneer around the tooth enough, leaving some dark tooth structure showing through at the sides of the teeth and/or at the gumline.
- They will overtreat the case by grinding the teeth down to stubs and placing porcelain crowns.
An expert cosmetic dentist will have been trained in dealing with the dark color. There are two basic ways of doing that. One is to put an opaque layer deeper in the restoration overlaid with a more translucent layer. The other is using what is called opalescent porcelain that will block out the color and still create an illusion of translucency.
To check if your cosmetic dentist knows what he or she is doing, ask about their experience with tetracycline stains. They should have a portfolio of before and after photographs for you to see, and if they can’t show you a successful tetracycline case, I would find another office. Or, you could go to a dentist accredited by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. That accreditation means that they have passed examinations demonstrating their knowledge of all these techniques, and you can be assured that they will know how to help you.
About going to a porcelain crown, the difference between covering tetracycline stains with porcelain veneers or porcelain crowns is in the amount of natural tooth structure that is removed. Porcelain veneers only require a tiny bit of enamel to removed. With a crown, only a small portion of the tooth is left. Therefore, your tooth will be more at risk to other issues down the road, such as breaking off.
So, if your teeth are otherwise healthy, porcelain veneers would be the better choice. The right cosmetic dentist will be able to present different options. Keep asking other cosmetic dentists their recommendations. It’s more about selecting the right cosmetic dentist that you can trust than price shopping or comparing services. This is an investment in your well being. It’s worth it to take the time to get it right.
If budget is a concern, you may be able to find a dentist that uses powerful teeth whitening treatments on the bottom teeth. Then, you could have the cosmetic dentist do porcelain veneers on top. After you’ve been able to save up, you could get the porcelain veneers on the bottom done at a later time. Or you could always look at some financing options.
Best of luck and thank you for your question.
This post is sponsored by Barrington cosmetic dentist James T. Gavrilos, DDS