Tetracycline is a powerful antibiotic that is relatively safe for children, but it can leave a distinctive gray stain behind on the teeth when given to a patient who has mature teeth still developing in the jaw. Teeth stained by tetracycline and similar antibiotics are particularly difficult to whiten. Find out why bonding might be your best option for dealing with this type of internal discoloration, either on its own or combined with other whitening treatments.
Fixing Multiple Problems
Are you interested in improving the shape of your teeth and closing up unsightly gaps with the same procedure that you choose for whitening the stains? Bonding can do both since it's primarily used for hiding chips and making small improvements to the shape of each tooth. Don't settle for just a whiter and brighter smile when basic bonding fixes a variety of issues all at once.
Supporting the Results of Bleaching
Veneers and crowns are sure to cover up the gray and blue stains, but they also add a lot of bulk to the teeth and require shaping and sanding of healthy enamel for a tight fit. Bonding coats the surface with a thin layer of composite resin instead, resulting in a natural looking layer of white material with minimal changes to the teeth below. This means you can lighten up the stains as much as possible and then finish the effect with a pearly white bonded coating without doing damage to the teeth.
In many cases with dark stains, pre-bleaching is necessary to keep the gray colors from showing through the bonding. The dentist will usually wait a few weeks between the bleaching and bonding to let the enamel and dentin recover.
Covering Pitted Enamel
Since the staining from tetracycline is caused from the inside out, most of the effect is under the surface. Many patients experience no actual damage to the dentin, enamel, or pulp of the teeth, but a few patients do find the enamel becomes pitted as the adult teeth start to age. If you're concerned that uneven enamel is causing accelerated wear to your teeth, bonding provides a protective coating to reduce sensitivity and prevent against damage. You may need veneers or even crowns instead of affordable bonding when damage has already set in due to associated issues like the following:
- Genetic predisposition to weak enamel or dentin
- Gum disease, which can start in childhood
- Trauma to the teeth before or after the antibiotic staining
- Missing patches of enamel that expose the tooth to acids and bacteria.
Getting Faster Results
When trying to lighten gray tetracycline stains with whitening alone, you're going to spend a minimum of one month on the project and up to one full year. Professionally supplied at-home whitening trays provide the safest and longest-lasting results, while the basic kits found at the drug store do nothing to address the deep discoloration. In contrast, a bonding treatment can give you the bright white smile you want in just one or two office visits.
On top of taking less time, bonding also costs far less than most other options for disguising discoloration. You can get bonding done for around $100 to 400 per tooth, compared to a minimum cost of $925 per tooth for durable porcelain veneers. Whitening prices vary greatly depending on the exact treatment, but months of ongoing treatments usually add up to thousands of dollars in the end.
Keeping the Tooth Intact
Finally, choosing bonding allows you to maintain the natural surface of a healthy tooth that is only discolored, not compromised. Veneers won't fit on these teeth unless the material is shaped and ground down, and you'll need to keep replacing those veneers every decade or so to keep the tissue covered. A dentist can remove the bonded coating later if necessary to treat the teeth below, which is harder to do with veneers and laminates. Read more for more information.