Hi everyone!

Today’s blog concerns tetracycline staining of teeth, I hope you find it interesting and helpful!

Treating Tetracycline Stains

People with tetracycline stained teeth are typically embarrassed and ashamed of their smiles, and often cannot easily receive bleaching or tooth whitening treatments. In the past, the only way of correcting tetracycline stains was to cap or crown all the teeth.  Conservative correction nowadays requires a dentist to use veneers or entails specialized bleaching or whitening techniques that take place over many months.

The Causes of Tetracycline Stains

Tetracycline is a common antibiotic used for treating bacterial infections. When used on developing teeth, Tetracycline may result in blue, gray, brown or yellow stains. If a mother takes tetracycline during pregnancy, her baby may develop tooth stains on primary (baby) teeth. Tetracycline is used to treat common conditions, such as the following:

  • Rosacea
  • Acne
  • Lyme disease
  • Plaque
  • Rocky Mountain Spotted fever
  • Cholera
  • Chlamydia

Tetracycline stains are caused when the drug gets deposited into the tooth’s structure, which means that the age the drug is taken strongly influences the location and extent of the tetracycline stain.  Teeth commonly form and mineralize while they are still below the gums before they erupt into the mouth.  Each tooth forms and mineralizes at a particular time and age, so where the staining occurs depends on at what age the drug was taken.  The stains can be blue to gray to brown, and can be generalized over the teeth or appear in the form of horizontal bands on the teeth.

Treating Tetracycline Stains through Cosmetic Dentistry

As with any condition affecting the teeth, there is a wide variety of treatment options for eliminating or reducing the appearance of tetracycline stains. While most whitening treatments will brighten normal teeth, two options are the most effective for tetracycline stained teeth—porcelain veneers or “deep” bleaching. Both treatments can be given by a cosmetic dentist with experience treating tetracycline stains. You should see a cosmetic dentist, so the treatment you choose does not cause more staining or unexpected problems.

Deep bleaching treatments are different from standard bleaching treatments in that they use different custom trays and different bleaching agents and happen over a longer period of time. While you can purchase mild bleaching treatments over the counter, severely stained teeth will most definitely require the treatment of an experienced dentist who can administer a professional deep bleaching treatment protocol. Depending on a patient’s condition, the deep bleaching routine needs to be performed at the office as well as at home for four to twelve weeks for proper whitening of tetracycline stained teeth. At-home treatments need to be done in addition to the in-office treatments performed by the dentist. The home bleaching treatments must be supervised, so they don’t cause unnecessary sensitivity and have maximum effectiveness.

Porcelain veneers are also a great treatment option for tetracycline stains. Very thin ceramic veneers are bonded over the front of the teeth with specialized resins that makes them strong enough for chewing and absolutely gorgeous. It is usually necessary to remove a very small layer of enamel to make sure the finished teeth don’t look bulky and to obtain maximum esthetics. Although we can do ultra-thin Lumineer veneers without any tooth preparation, there is a slight compromise with that technique in contour an cosmetics.  We are very selective in choosing Lumineer cases and most of the time need to do some enamel re-contouring  before we place veneers if we want them to look the absolute best that is possible.

If you have tetracycline staining  or any tooth discoloration, for that matter, please feel free to contact our Southfield dental office at 248-356-8790 and schedule a free consultation with me to discuss your options.  I have been in practice for over 35 years and have a great deal of experience managing discolored teeth.  There is no need to hide your smile anymore, and there has never been a better time to comfortably and dramatically change your smile and your life!

That’s all for today, so until next time, remember:

Sometimes joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”   –  Thich Nhat Hanh

Mark W Langberg, DDS, MAGD