When I was younger, I took tetracycline and it stained my teeth. Back then, they did bonding to cover the stains and for the most part it has held up pretty well. It’s just been in the last few years that they have started to look bad again and I’ve been considering what to do about it. At my last dental appointment, I brought it up to my dentist and asked him what my options are. He insists that I can only do veneers – which are completely out of the question because there is no way I can afford them. I asked if we could do bonding again or if teeth whitening would work and he shot both of them down. Is there really nothing else that can be done? Will I have to just have dingy, stained teeth until I can save up enough money for veneers? — Marilee
Do you know if your dentist does much cosmetic dentistry? Based on what he is telling, it doesn’t sound like he does. There’s no doubt that veneers would be the best way to give you a great looking smile, but there are other options.
Unless he’s examined you and determined that there are structural issues with your teeth, there shouldn’t be any reason why the bonding couldn’t be redone. If he’s pushing the veneers, your teeth are probably fine. As for whitening, tetracycline stains are highly resistant to even the strongest professional grade gels and it could take months of treatment to get where you want to be.
Here’s what you need to do: find a good cosmetic dentist and get a second opinion. He or she might be able to polish some of the stains out. If you do try whitening, you need to realize that it could take a long time to see any results, so you’ll have to be persistent and patient. The bonding won’t actually change color, so it will need to be replaced. A good cosmetic dentist can tell you whether or not the bonding can be removed before you start the whitening and then replaced after you’ve gotten the results you want.
This will be a lengthy process – probably several months at least. If you don’t think you can endure that long, you better start tucking away those extra dollars so you can eventually get veneers.