There are many reasons why an individual may want to receive cosmetic dentistry. They may not like the shape of their teeth or the spacing of their teeth in their mouth. For others, their confidence may be affected as a result of the colour of their teeth and they want to do something to fix it.
Porcelain veneers are without a doubt one of the best cosmetic dental treatments available. They are favoured by cosmetic dentists as they are able to be used to fix a variety of cosmetic issues, and they can be custom-made to fit almost anyone.
One of the more difficult issues for cosmetic dentists to treat is intrinsic tooth stains, such as those caused by tetracycline. Are porcelain veneers up to the challenge? Carry on reading to find out!
What is tetracycline?
Tetracycline is a common antibiotic that is used to treat bacterial infections and other ailments.
In the 1980s, doctors stopped prescribing the antibiotic to children after it was revealed that tetracycline caused dark grey and brown stains to appear on the patient’s permanent teeth as they got older.
They even stopped prescribing tetracycline to pregnant women as their babies were growing up with stained teeth, too.
Exposure to tetracycline as a child didn’t just cause cosmetic issues, either. Tetracycline actually weakened the enamel of the permanent teeth, making them prone to decay and damage, and even more prone to further tooth discolouration.
So why does this happen?
Tetracycline has an interesting side effect where it bonds (chelates) to the calcium ions in our bodies – the calcium that is needed to form healthy teeth and bones. As a result, any teeth that are forming below the gums can be intrinsically stained by these calcium ions.
Does tetracycline stain teeth in adults?
There have been some reports that taking tetracycline as an adult can still cause tooth stains.
Fortunately, these stains are not intrinsic to the tooth and only affect the surface layer. This means that the stains are not permanent and can be cleaned away by a hygienist or whitened.
The reason that stains only form on the surface of the tooth as an adult is because tetracycline mixes with saliva and coats the tooth surface. Our teeth are already formed and outside of our body, so the calcium ions have no effect on intrinsic tooth colour.
Can tetracycline stained teeth be whitened?
It is difficult to treat tetracycline tooth stains with whitening because the stains are beneath the surface of the tooth.
There are some whitening products that claim to be effective against tetracycline stains, but there are far more effective treatments available than whitening.
How to get rid of tetracycline stains on teeth
If you have tried whitening your teeth to remove tetracycline stains and have seen little to no success, then don’t panic. There are other avenues for treatment that you can consider, so you don’t have to spend the rest of your life concerned if your tooth stains bother you.
As mentioned earlier, porcelain veneers are one of the best treatments that cosmetic dentists can offer.
They are very thin and very strong pieces of porcelain that are applied to the surface of your teeth to improve their appearance. Veneers can hide a wide range of cosmetic problems that are unique to you. This may be issues with tooth colour or shape, or it may even be to improve the structure of your teeth to prevent further damage that can be caused by issues like overbites.
For tetracycline stains, porcelain veneers are a great choice of treatment because they create a new outer layer for your teeth and are your chosen colour. Porcelain veneers are just the right blend of translucent and opaque so that they hide any discolouration beneath while still creating the appearance of a natural tooth (unlike poor quality veneers that you may see from dental tourism that are completely opaque).
Crowns are also an effective method of treating tetracycline stains, although you may find this treatment to be excessive if tooth stains are your only issue.
To fit crowns, there needs to be a substantial amount of shaving away of the enamel (whereas with porcelain veneer we aim to preserve 95% of the enamel). This is because crowns are full tooth caps, rather than just a thin veneer that mimics the front surface of the tooth.
We may recommend that a patient with other, more severe, cosmetic dental issues receive crowns. Otherwise, for tetracycline stains, we will likely advise that our patient receives porcelain veneers provided they are eligible.
Find out more about our veneers clinic in London
Wondering whether you are eligible for veneers? Simply get in touch with our clinic in London and send us a picture of your teeth.
This way we can perform an online consultation and let you know whether you will be a suitable candidate for veneers without you having to make the journey to Harley Street, London.
We look forward to hearing from you!