Drugs Q & A

Does Tetracycline Stain Teeth In Adults?

Many prescription medications can affect the teeth and gums. Healthy teeth and gums depend on good oral hygiene, a diet low in added sugar, healthy saliva, and visits to the dentist every 6 to 12 months.

It is important that you tell your dentist about any medications you are taking. They can tell you if the medication is likely to affect your teeth and what you can do to help prevent dental issues. Dentists also consider your medications when deciding on the best treatment options for your dental care.

A child’s permanent teeth start to form in the jawbones soon after birth. These developing teeth are also vulnerable to certain medications.

What is tetracycline?

Tetracycline is used to treat infections caused by bacteria including pneumonia and other respiratory tract infections; certain infections of the skin, eye, lymphatic, intestinal, genital, and urinary systems; and certain other infections that are spread by ticks, lice, mites, and infected animals. It is also used along with other medications to treat acne.

Tetracycline is also used to treat plague and tuleramia (serious infections that may be spread on purpose as part of a bioterror attack). It can also be used in patients who cannot be treated with penicillin to treat certain types of food poisoning, and anthrax (a serious infection that may be spread on purpose as part of a bioterror attack). Tetracycline is in a class of medications called tetracycline antibiotics. It works by preventing the growth and spread of bacteria.

Does tetracycline stain teeth in adults?

Yes, tetracycline can bind to an adult tooth after mixing with saliva, forming dark spots on teeth and giving them a yellow discoloration. Studies have also shown that tetracycline exposure at a time of tooth mineralization or calcification, can cause tetracycline to bind to the calcium ions in the teeth. Tetracycline doesn’t only affect the color of teeth. Exposure to the antibiotic can also weaken tooth enamel, putting teeth at risk of decay (cavity). In children, tetracycline therapy makes teeth erupt, with an initial fluorescent yellow discoloration.

Taking this medicine during pregnancy may affect tooth and bone development in the unborn baby. Taking tetracycline during the last half of pregnancy can cause permanent tooth discoloration later in the baby’s life. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or if you become pregnant while using this medicine.

Tetracycline can also pass into breast milk and may affect bone and tooth development in a nursing infant. Do not breast-feed while you are taking tetracycline.

Can tetracycline-stained teeth be whitened?

Yes, studies have shown that a course of oral tetracycline 250 mg taken four times a day over a 4 weeks period is capable of causing teeth discoloration in adults. Tetracycline-induced teeth staining in adults can be completely removed by abrasive cleaning by a dentist.

The process takes some simple steps enumerated below:

•          Step 1: Your teeth are inspected for, tetracycline teeth side, decay, and weak spots in the enamel.

•          Step 2: Plaque and tartar are scraped from the surface of your teeth in a process called scaling.

•          Step 3: Your teeth are then buffed and polished to remove tetracycline staining before being flossed and topped with a protective coat of fluoride.

There are two primary ways that standard polishing can be done. The first is with a slow-speed dental drill and a rubber cup. The cup is dipped in a slightly abrasive polishing paste and used to clean and polish the teeth.”

Most dentists prefer to use a blasting type of device loaded with baking soda powder. This type of polishing is most effective at getting into the cracks and crevices in and between teeth. The baking soda is not abrasive and won’t wear away teeth enamel.

But most of the results are not comparable to the appearance of the teeth prior to the therapy. Since tetracycline stains tend to be dark and deep within the tooth, you will likely need a high concentration of bleaching agent to produce results. If you have tetracycline stains, in-office teeth whitening with a high concentration of peroxide can significantly lighten your teeth.

However, for most patients with tetracycline staining, getting veneers is the only way to truly get rid of that gray discoloration. Masking tetracycline stains is one of the ultimate tests for porcelain veneers. It is difficult to mask dark underlying tooth color and retain the natural appearance of the veneers. A very important factor in successfully covering these stains is the area of each tooth that is affected.

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