Tetracycline Stains On Teeth: Why This Happens And How To Fix It

Dentist Articles

If you took the antibiotic tetracycline when you were a child and now have stained teeth, there is a good chance these stains were caused by taking that medication. Tetracycline has been linked to the permanent staining of teeth; however, you can visit a cosmetic dentist to have this problem fixed. Here are several things you may be wondering about stains on teeth from tetracycline.

Why Does Tetracycline Leave Permanent Stains?

Tetracycline is a medication that has been around for approximately 60 years, and it was commonly used to treat infections during the 1950s and 1960s. It is still used today; however, doctors are cautious when prescribing it, especially to children. Taking tetracycline can only cause stains to develop on teeth when taken by children whose teeth are still forming, and this is why doctors do not typically prescribe tetracycline to children that are eight years old or younger.

While a child's teeth are still forming, the drug tetracycline can affect the child's teeth long after they erupt. This occurs when the tetracycline calcifies in the tooth. As this occurs, the medication actually binds calcium to the insides of the teeth that are still developing. Once these teeth erupt and are exposed to light, they oxidize, and this is what leads to discoloration and staining of the teeth.

If you are not sure if your tooth stains are from tetracycline, you can visit a dentist. Dentists are usually able to spot tetracycline stains simply by examining the teeth. These stains are generally yellow, brown, or gray, but they can be a combination of these colors too. The worst part about tetracycline stains is that they are intrinsic stains. This means the stains are actually on the inside of the teeth, and intrinsic stains are always harder to fix than stains that are extrinsic.

How Can Dentists Fix These Stains?

If you visit a dentist and find out that your stains are definitely from exposure to tetracycline as a child, your dentist will discuss your options for fixing the problems. Teeth-whitening services are not typically the recommended treatment option for stains like these, because these services generally help only with extrinsic stains on teeth. Tetracycline stains cannot usually be eliminated, but they can be covered, and there are several different ways to hide stains by covering teeth. Here are some of the options your dentist might discuss with you:

  • Bonding – Bonding is one of the most affordable ways to cover stained teeth. With bonding, a dentist is able to apply a thin layer of composite bonding material to your teeth. The dentist can choose the right shade of white to match your other teeth or make your teeth even whiter than what they naturally are. Bonding works well, but it is not really a permanent solution as it can stain over time.
  • Veneers – Dental veneers are also commonly used to cover intrinsic tooth stains. A veneer is often made of ceramic and is designed to fit over a tooth. It too can be shaded any color of white, and veneers tend to hold up well for many years. In addition, they do not discolor as easily as composite bonding.
  • Crowns – When discoloration occurs on molar teeth, dentists typically recommend dental crowns. A dental crown is similar to a veneer and is usually made of ceramic.

If you are sick of living with stained teeth and would like to fix this problem, contact a cosmetic dentist, such as Stone & Johnson Dental Group. Cosmetic dentists can help fix all types of stains on teeth, and they can also help with other types of issues you may have with the way your teeth look. 


17 August 2016

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