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Porcelain Veneers or Crowns for Tetracycline Stains

I have embarrassing tetracycline stains. I’ve got a budget of about $30,000. I’ve been to see two dentists. One (Dr. B—)is suggesting a full set of dental crowns for about $27,000. The other, (Dr. M—) is suggesting porcelain veneers for $46,000. I’m leaning toward the crowns because they’re in my budget and I grind my teeth. I’m assuming crowns hold up better with that. But, my husband is insisting I talk to an expert first. Do you have a recommendation?

Lorene M.

Dear Lorene,

Left: porcelain crown; Right: porcelain veneer

I’m glad your husband was insistent you get another opinion. I’m going to save you some potential disasters here. First, let’s address the teeth grinding. It’s a misconception that the crowns will hold up better. Neither crowns, veneers, nor your natural teeth will hold up to teeth grinding. Eventually, you’ll lose a tooth or two and end up needing expensive replacements. If your dentist hasn’t already warned you to get a nightguard for your grinding, you need a new dentist. He’s ruining your teeth. However, once you get the nightguard your teeth will be protected. They’re small and comfortable.

Now onto your choice. You should be aware that tetracycline stains are some of the hardest to deal with cosmetically. You need to get the restoration opaque enough to cover the stains, yet translucent enough to look natural and beautiful.

I know both the dentists you’ve had a consultation with. Dr. B— is a phenomenal cosmetic dentist. He will give you a stunning smile. Though he’s more expensive than the other quote you received, he’s worth every penny. Dr. M— is a decent dentist, but he recommended crowns to you because, while he’s a skilled family dentist, he’s not very experienced with cosmetic work. You’re in this to improve your smile. He’ll give you a functional smile but not a beautiful one.

Porcelain Veneers for Tetracycline Stains

Porcelain veneers will be a much better solution for you. As you can see from the image above, your teeth have to be ground down for crowns. It’s never recommended to grind down healthy tooth structure unnecessarily. Plus, once teeth are crowned you can never go back. They will always have to be crowned.

I know you’re worried about costs. And, I’m a big believer in staying within a workable budget. One way you can get the optimal choice and save money is to have the porcelain veneers placed only on the top teeth. On the bottom teeth, you can have Kör Whitening done. This brand is more effective with tetracycline stains than other teeth whitening brands.

Most of the time bottom teeth are whitened and not veneered anyway. This is not a subpar suggestion for your treatment.

This blog is brought to you by Naperville Dentist Dr. David Newkirk.