Tetracycline Stains

Treating Teeth Tetracycline Stains

Patients with tetracycline stains are often unable to receive standard teeth-whitening treatments. Treating this difficult form of staining often requires specific methods of whitening treatment or the use of porcelain veneers. One of the most frustrating aspects of this condition is the fact that the use of standard whitening methods may result in a discoloration that is worse than the original condition. Due to the depth of the discoloration, removal of the outer layers of the tooth will only make the stains darker.

What Causes Tetracycline Stains

Tetracycline is a powerful broad-spectrum antibiotic that is used against a large number of bacterial infections. When taken while teeth are still developing, tetracycline may cause significant yellow, gray or brown staining. This staining may even occur in babies if taken by the mother during pregnancy. Some of the conditions that tetracycline is most commonly used to treat include:

  • Acne
  • Rosacea
  • Cholera
  • Rocky Mountain spotted fever
  • Lyme disease
  • Chlamydia
  • Plague

These distinct tetracycline stains occur because the drug is deposited within the enamel and dentin of the teeth during development. Once the second set of teeth are fully formed, the drug can no longer be deposited within the structure of the tooth, minimizing the risk of this side effect for adult patients. This stain may affect the entire tooth, or can occur in a distinct horizontal banding pattern across the teeth.

Treatment of Tetracycline Stains by a Cosmetic Dentist

As with most teeth conditions, patients may have a range of treatment options when it comes to diminishing the appearance of these tetracycline stains. While most dental whitening treatments will not be effective on these stains, the two most effective options are deep bleaching and porcelain veneers. Both of these treatments should only be administered by a cosmetic dentist with extensive experience in treating tetracycline stains. This is necessary to ensure that the chosen treatment does not result in the previously mentioned outcome in which the condition is worse then before.

Deep bleaching treatments vary significantly from standard bleaching procedures. While some bleaching treatments are so mild that they can be purchased from any pharmacy, the severity of this condition requires professional-strength bleaching treatment. Depending on the specifics of the case, patients may need to undergo at-home whitening treatments for 4-8 weeks to achieve proper whitening results. These treatments are performed in addition to in-office bleachings of increased strength. Bleaching must be handled properly to ensure that the treatment does not simply highlight the discoloration.

Porcelain veneers are another potential treatment option for those with tetracycline stains. These veneers are affixed to the outside of the teeth, and are made of special porcelain that provides a strong, secure chewing surface. Some slight removal of the exterior portion of the enamel is often necessary to ensure a proper fit. When applying veneers for this condition, it is crucial that the veneers be specially designed to be opaque enough to block out the darkness of the stain, yet still give a natural translucent appearance to the teeth.

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