If your teeth are discolored and stained, some of the first remedies you can try include whitening toothpaste, whitening strips, and professional whitening treatments administered in your dentist's office. Usually, professional treatments will do a decent job of lightening even the most serious stains, but there are instances where this is not the case or when other dental ailments make it unsafe for you to undergo such treatments. In cases like these, it's important not to give up hope. There are several other treatment options you can consider in order to camouflage your tooth stains.
Veneers are like masks for your teeth. They're thin slips of porcelain that cover the fronts of your teeth, but not the sides or backs. A dentist can make the veneers a few shades lighter than your natural teeth so that your smile looks brighter and whiter. Many people opt to have all of their visible teeth covered in veneers. However, if you have just one badly stained tooth, you could just get a veneer on this tooth -- and have it colored to match your other teeth so it's not obvious.
The process of having veneers applied is simple and painless. Your dentist makes a mold of your teeth, a lab uses the mold to make custom veneers, and the veneers are cemented onto your teeth.
Veneers are a good choice if you have other tooth issues that you'd like to hide, like a chip or a slightly crooked tooth. Once you have them in place, they don't really require any extra care, though you'll want to avoid eating anything too crunchy as this might crack the veneers.
The downside of veneers is that they are quite costly. Because they're considered a cosmetic dental treatment, they're not typically covered by health insurance. Expect to pay at least $925 per tooth. Porcelain veneers last 10 - 15 years, and you'll need to have them replaced once they wear out.
Dental bonding is a procedure in which a tooth-colored resin is applied over a portion of your tooth. The process of dental bonding is similar to that of having a filling applied. Your dentist will use a file to roughen up the tooth's surface a bit, and then he or she will apply a composite resin to the area. The resin will be filed down to create a seamless border between it and your tooth.
Bonding is usually a good choice when you have one or a few distinct stains to address. It's not such a great choice for extensive discoloration across all of your teeth as the composite is hard to apply over such a large area.
If the discolored or stained teeth are not in such good shape, such as if they are beginning to develop some decay, your dentist may recommend covering them with crowns. These are like caps for your teeth. They're made from porcelain or composite resin, and they cover the entire tooth. Nobody will see the discolored tooth underneath. The crown also offers support and acts as a barrier between the tooth and oral bacteria, so it can stop a tooth from cracking or developing more extensive decay.
Crowns are considered a permanent dental fixture. If you need them for issues in addition to the straining, your dental insurance may cover the cost. The process of having a crown applied is painless. Your dentist will make a mold of your tooth, have crowns made in a lab, and then cement the crowns to your teeth when they arrive at the office.
To learn more about these options for difficult teeth, talk to a dentist in your area.