When it comes to teeth whitening, there are two main types of dental stains that discolor teeth and cause cosmetic dental problems for patients. Extrinsic stains are those caused by food and drink or smoking. These stains reside on the outside of the tooth and stain the enamel. Extrinsic stains can often be removed with a thorough dental cleaning or professional teeth whitening.
Intrinsic stains are stains which are embedded within the tooth structure itself. One of the most common intrinsic dental stains occurs with the use of a prescription antibiotic called tetracycline. From the 1950’s to the 1980’s, the antibiotic tetracycline was commonly used in children for anything from an ear infection to acne treatment. The problem with tetracycline is that in young children, from prenatal through about age 8, the tetracycline became calcified within the structure of developing teeth, resulting in tooth staining from within the tooth itself.
Although harmless, tetracycline staining of the teeth is often severe and extremely unattractive. Because the stains cannot be removed with cleaning or dental bleaching, eliminating the stains is often not possible. Tooth discoloration from tetracycline staining is often dark gray or brown. It usually covers the tooth entirely or occurs in a linear pattern on the tooth structure. The most often recommended treatment for tetracycline staining on teeth is to cover the stains with cosmetic dental veneers or dental crowns.
Adults are not at risk for developing tetracycline staining on their teeth, because the staining only occurs during tooth development. Tetracycline is still commonly used today, although it is no longer prescribed for children under 8 years old or pregnant women.
Dental stains from antibiotics can be corrected with cosmetic dentistry. If you have dental discoloration caused by antibiotics or other factors, talk to your dentist about possible treatment options.
Only your dentist can determine whether your tooth discoloration can be corrected with professional teeth whitening or cosmetic dentistry. Contact Dr. Ban today to schedule a consultation and find out the best way to correct tooth discoloration and regain a beautiful bright smile today!