If your teeth are stained with dark, bluish bands that never seem to whiten, you may be a victim of childhood tetracycline staining. Tetracyclines are a family of antibiotics prescribed for a variety of illnesses, but they are no longer recommended for use in children because of their effect on developing teeth. Tetracycline stains are typically deeply ingrained in the minerals of your teeth and can be very difficult to remove by conventional whitening methods, but you do still have options to minimize or hide the discoloration through cosmetic dentistry.
Diagnosing Antibiotic Staining from Childhood
Tetracycline antibiotics only impact permanent teeth before they erupt from the gums, meaning only young children are at risk for staining while on this antibiotic. Children in the United States are now almost never prescribed these antibiotics, but their effects on teeth were not always known, and many children were effected over the course of several decades in the past. If you suffered from ear, bladder, or other infections as a child and have dark bands on your teeth, you were likely prescribed a tetracycline antibiotic when you were young. Your dentist should be able to confirm the diagnosis through a basic examination.
Attempting to Clear Up Tetracycline Staining by Bleaching
Again, the stains involved in this condition are embedded within the actual minerals of your teeth, unlike the superficial surface stains associated with coffee and other foods or drinks. This can make standard bleach treatments ineffective, though you may have more luck with an extended bleaching regimen. One case study found significant improvements in a patient who stuck to a bleaching program for several months, though the stains were never removed entirely.
Masking the Staining with Veneers
Your cosmetic dentist is likely to recommend a more convenient and comprehensive solution through porcelain veneers. Veneers are light, false fronts that fit snugly over your real teeth, creating a better smile artificially without feeling awkward or unnatural in your mouth. Veneers can perfectly mask your staining and last for years or even decades with the right care. Because they are effective, quick to install, and long-lasting, they are typically the preferred treatment for antibiotic staining.
Covering Back Teeth with Crowns
If your back teeth are particularly dark, to the point that they are noticeable when you speak, you can also cover them with dental caps or crowns. This is often a more invasive procedure, so your dentist may only recommend it for severe cases or if you are especially concerned about your smile's appearance. Alternatively, you may gradually have these crowns installed anyways if you have the misfortune of needing a root canal.
You don't have to spend the rest of your life dealing with the consequences of a medical mistake in your childhood; start exploring your options to reach your smile's full potential and stop feeling self-conscious over staining you couldn't control. Contact a representative from an establishment like Carolina Forest Family Dentistry to get started.