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Solution for Tetracycline Stains

I have had tetracycline stains for as long as I can remember. I am ready to do something about it. I wanted to whiten my teeth, but my dentist insists that won’t make any difference. Instead, he wants to do dental crowns, but I’m not thrilled with that. Even though my smile is ugly, my teeth are perfectly healthy. I’ve only had one cavity in my entire life. Why won’t teeth whitening work?


Dear Elaine,

Tetracycline stains are among the most difficult types of stains to deal with. Most of the time, teeth whitening won’t do anything to help. Though, the Kor Whitening brand has had more success with this than the others. The problem stems from how deep and dark tetracycline stains are. You have to have the cosmetic solution to be opaque enough to cover the stains, yet still have that natural translucency of your natural teeth.

To get around that difficulty, most dentists will grind your teeth down to nubs and place crowns on the teeth. But, that is practically destroying healthy teeth. Not something you’ll want to do if you can help it. The better solution would be to get porcelain veneers, but it would take an expert cosmetic dentist to pull this off well.

Finding an Expert Cosmetic Dentist

Because there isn’t a recognized specialty in cosmetic dentistry, patients are in a difficult position. Smile makeovers aren’t taught in dental school. It is up to the dentist to obtain the post-doctoral training necessary to create a beautiful smile. This is especially important when it comes to a difficult case such as yours.

So, how does a patient go about finding a dentist who can give them their dream smile instead of a disaster? There is a website, that understood the predicament most patients found themselves in. As a result, they started a “Find a Cosmetic Dentist” link. They screen any dentist for their training and artistic skills before they can be listed. This way a patient knows a dentist from that list has the qualifications and artistic eye to create a stunning smile for them.

Even then, when you find someone in your area on their list, I’d ask them to show you some before and after pictures of smile makeovers they’ve done with tetracycline cases. Don’t let them show you stock photos. It has to be something they’ve personally done.

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