My tetracycline-stained teeth were bonded 20 years ago. they now are very grey and stained in an un-uniform way.
Can I un-bond them and then use Zoom or some other whitening product that is on the market now (but wasn’t when I originally had them bonded)? My dentist is not sure how he wants to handle it (and he would like to make me porcelain veneers, but that is not in my budget).
Sharon in South Carolina
I’m glad you wrote. In your situation you really NEED some expert advice,
I have some very definite recommendations for you.
When you have tetracycline stains, you absolutely need an expert cosmetic dentist. DON’T have your family dentist make you veneers or bonding or anything else. Save up your money and get it done right, or don’t do it at all. Tetracycline stains are very difficult, and I have seen so many cases where the general dentist botched it. Read my article on the difference between a general dentist who says he’s a cosmetic dentist, and a true cosmetic dentist. For a little more insight into how big a difference there is.
Second, if it’s money that’s a problem and the only option that you can afford is bleaching, don’t use Zoom. This is promoted like it’s the way to make your teeth their whitest. It isn’t. It works faster, but it isn’t better. Just use the take-home trays, if you’re going to bleach. Now with bleaching, you’ll never get a naturally white smile, but you can lighten the stains “IF” you have enough persistence. The change comes very slowly, but if you continue to bleach for months, you can make your teeth whiter. If you did enough Zoom bleaching to make the teeth whiter, it would cost you a fortune, because you’re doing it on their time. If you use the take-home trays, you can do it on your own time, and get just as good a result, for a whole lot less money.
So, I’d go to an expert. Click here for a referral to an expert cosmetic dentist in your area. Some cosmetic dentists will do a free initial consultation—it wouldn’t hurt to ask if they’ll do this. And here’s what you want to ask when you get there:
- Can my bonding over my tetracycline stains be improved by polishing? Your dentist should be able to differentiate between the stained bonding and the tetracycline stains that are showing through.
If it can, then I’d consider having her polish it up for you to try to get rid of some of the accumulated stain on the bonding. You may be tempted to think that your local dentist is capable of doing this, but I would doubt it. The polishing of bonding materials is a multi-step process and a fine art that isn’t taught in dental schools.
- Then, if you want to bleach, I’d see about having the bonding removed and then start on the bleaching. I’d only do this if you’re the persistent type who can continue to bleach for months when you aren’t going to see any change from day to day. If you’re the kind who tends to get discouraged, like most of us, then I would leave well enough alone and just save up your money to get veneers from a truly expert cosmetic dentist.
I hope this is helpful.
—Dr. David Hall