How Does Tetracycline Affect Our Teeth?

Tetracycline Affect Our Teeth

The generic drug tetracycline, brand drug Sumycin, is a prescription antibiotic for skin conditions, infections, and bacterial infections such as acne, cholera, rosacea, brucellosis, and so much more. The medication was newly introduced in the 1950s with recognition as an essential drug by WHO, the “World Health Organization” due primarily to its effects against the plague, syphilis, and malaria. Look here for more details on tetracycline. In this article, you will get to know how does tetracycline affect our teeth.

The substance is short-acting, able to stop bacteria from growing by insinuating itself inside the pores of its membrane. After it reaches its destination, tetracycline disrupts the bacteria’s protein synthesis, thus preventing the possibility of reproduction.

Unfortunately, where it is good with drugs, there will also be adverse reactions, for which there are some pretty heavy side effects possible with this antibiotic. If you notice severe (even mild) symptomatology, you should contact your physician immediately. The one the dental community is concerned with is the Tetracycline tooth staining.

Tetracycline History

In 1956, very shortly after the drug was introduced, a child showed tooth discoloration from use. But before anyone made the connection, child upon child came along with stains the next decade. The indication is the relationship falls with mineralization of teeth that are particularly active in a child’s developing mouth.

If a child has exposure to the drug or even a nursing or pregnant mom, the medication binds itself to a tooth’s “calcium ions.” So, initially, the teeth that pop through will have a fluorescent yellowish tint. Still, as the antibiotic oxidizes when the teeth reach the light, this color will change from a fluorescent shade to a more brownish color or gray tone.

The entire process can take a matter of a few months up to several years. Where the discoloration shows up will depend on maturation when exposed to the drug. A permanent tooth will have less color, but it will cover more of the tooth.

Because of the findings, medical professionals discontinued tetracycline with pregnant women and children under the age of 8 to avoid the period when teeth are calcifying. That can help prevent future episodes of tetracycline teeth stains, but what do people who have the discoloration do? Are they permanent, or can they be whitened? Let’s see.

How To Treat Tetracycline Discoloration

How To Treat Tetracycline Discoloration

The stain that tetracycline produces is not merely a surface discoloration but instead becomes a component of the teeth “anatomy,” if you will. The severity will depend on where the child is in their development when exposed, their age, what stage their teeth are currently, and the length of exposure.

The discoloration will initially, briefly, be a brilliant yellow but turn to either a brown, blue, or gray tone showing as banding across the teeth. These can be challenging to change back to a natural color, but it depends on the severity.

There are options like veneers, filling/bonding restoration, crowns, and even bleaching for lighter cases. That would be a matter of merely blending, more so than attempting to remove the discoloration since the stain is not a surface issue.


You will likely want to work closely with your dental provider rather than make corrections independently. Go to If the dentist feels these are light enough, you can try at-home whitening kits, the recommendations will be made, otherwise deep staining of this nature needs professional care to fade. Options generally made available include:

** Whitening

Stains created from the antibiotic are not merely sitting on the surface of your teeth. Instead, these are deep within the structure, becoming part of the anatomy, making it difficult to pull the discoloration entirely with whitening treatments. The indication, however, is that the whitening solution has the potential for making subtle improvements for the staining if they are not too pronounced.

Generally, with the solutions, there is hydrogen or carbamide peroxide for bleaching purposes. You would need an exceptional concentration of the agent to reach a depth of this kind for the optimum outcome. To get that level would require in-office treatment with a dentist who can offer what professionals refer to as “deep bleaching.”

Deep bleaching is successful, with some patients seeing a distinct change. However, there is also a possibility for patchy whitening. Results will vary, of course, based on the significance of staining.

** Bonding

You can also consider the choice of a colored resin applied to the teeth surfaces in a process referred to as bonding. The purpose is to cover the staining to improve the appearance of your smile. Again, the option is one for those who have only minimal exposure.

The process notes a relatively quick, somewhat invasive procedure performed in the dental clinic, but it isn’t a permanent solution, ultimately needing to be redone. The recommendation is also that the teeth you apply the product to not get a lot of action, for instance, the front teeth. No one uses these to chew, and you don’t want to use a lot of pressure when biting either.

If the material comes off or breaks, you need to see the dentist for corrections.

** Veneers

Stains that are incredibly deep and prominent, and prevalent will likely not respond to whitening and might be too numerous for bonding. Veneers might be a more beneficial option in this situation. These are composite or porcelain natural-toned shells to fit over the outside of teeth. A veneer can alter the shape, color, and size, plus disguise substantial staining.

The downside for veneers is they are not budget-friendly, with full-sets costing in the thousands with the lifespan being up to 20 years if excellent care is taken, and then you will need a new set.

It is critical when choosing this option to learn from your dentist the proper way to care for them and ensure that you follow the guidelines precisely, so you get total longevity. Veneers are not something you want to worry about needing to replace every ten years.

** Crowns

Crowns are another invasive procedure performed at the dental clinic, boasting effectiveness in bringing a more vibrant, brilliant smile. The process entails removing a substantial piece of the natural teeth with the remains transformed by the crown covering, which serves in a sense as a prosthetic.

The crown is made to look like a natural tooth in coloring with ceramic or porcelain material. Those left with severe tetracycline teeth staining in adults choose this as the best option to solve the issue. It might seem a bit drastic, but the kind of stains that individuals have from the antibiotic are exceptionally detrimental since they affect the body of the tooth, not merely the surface.

These also come at a pretty high price point, but with adequate care, they can last for your lifespan.

Smiles Bring Stability

Smiles Bring Stability

Stained teeth at any age are a problem emotionally, mentally, socially, psychologically. It affects who we are in our self-esteem and our confidence level. When you cannot go out in public and produce a nice, brilliant, warm, bright smile and feel 100% that you look fantastic, it affects you even physically.

Tetracycline brings stains to our youth, maybe not right away, but at some point. These are not merely on the surface, which might be easily corrected. Instead, they become a bit of a challenge because they develop as a part of the tooth’s structure. So, what can you do – aside from pulling your teeth – to decrease the appearance of the stains?

While the drug saves lives and everyone is grateful for those lives saved, the aftereffects need solutions. That means more work needs doing to make the antibiotic more optimal without adversity. Dentists are among the professionals trying to solve the side effects faced by people left with stained teeth.

You will find solutions here that might prove exceptionally beneficial. But, of course, the ideal first step is for you to speak with your dental provider. That is a resource that can make determinations regarding your specific case.

This expert can assess your damage and advise the optimum way to resolve your issue, and it might be much easier than you think. Too often, individuals analyze personal diagnoses against internet articles, trying out self-care solutions that only do more harm. Let your dentist look at your tetracycline stains. You might be looking at them in a worse light than they genuinely are.

Final Thought

With modern technology and advances in dentistry, there is more than professionals can do with whitening and other treatments than even a decade ago. So do not let the fact that you might have tetracycline stains make you feel in any way as though you will never have your best smile again. You will.

Do not attempt it on your own. Causing more damage will only lead you to feeling worse, create more problems, and a higher expense. Instead, go to a dental provider who will assess the issue. The dentist can offer reasonable suggestions. From that point, you decide on how you wish to proceed. It could be a straightforward, fast fix. Nothing is impossible if you have the right dental clinic.


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