Had a bad case of bacterial infection? Then you might have taken a tetracycline antibiotic at least once. These antibiotics can treat a broad range of diseases, from Lyme disease to pneumonia. But while they’re probably the most widely-used medicines around, tetracycline might affect how your teeth look. Worse, still, it isn’t always easy getting those tetracycline-stained teeth whiter.
As a generic medication, tetracycline is safe to use. The World Health Organization also considers it an essential medicine, adding to its credibility. But it still has its share of side effects. When you take any antibiotics within tetracycline’s broad-spectrum, you might experience a loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. More than this, tetracycline had side effects on your teeth. Your children can also get tetracycline-stained teeth. This is particularly true when they ingest it via the womb during the second trimester of pregnancy or when they’re at least 12-years-old.
But how do tetracycline teeth form in the first place? And how do you fix tetracycline-stained teeth?
Tetracycline Binds with the Calcium Ions in the Body
Before we get into how to treat tetracycline stained teeth, it might be helpful first to ask yourself, “How does tetracycline stain teeth in the first place?”
Tetracycline staining is the most potent in critical stages of tooth development. The antibiotic can cross the placental barrier, which means that it could affect the developing fetus. When a mother takes an antibiotic within its broad-spectrum, it bonds to the calcium ions that aid in tooth development. It’s typically transmitted through the blood, where it eventually becomes part of the tooth. Once your baby gets their very first tooth, you might find noticeable tooth discoloration on it.
Tooth development reaches its critical stages in-utero until your child is 12-years-old. It’s for this reason why the American Academy of Pediatrics stated in 1970 that tetracycline shouldn’t be given to children less than eight years of age. However, you might want to hold it off until they’re well into adolescence.
How Do You Treat Tetracycline-Stained Teeth?
Now that we know how tetracycline stains teeth, how do we treat it? For the most part, dentists treat these tetracycline stains with veneers and crowns. Unlike other stains, tetracycline stains go beyond the enamel surface. But this might not necessarily be the only way to get those pearly whites back to standard.
But some dentists have begun to play with the possibility of whitening teeth as is. According to Science Daily, tetracycline teeth can be treated using a whitening system. For tooth discoloration, a dentist might recommend a prescription dosage of fluoride toothpaste to counteract the side effects of whitening. Afterward, the patient undergoes the typical whitening system procedure, where the whitening solution is painted onto the enamel and whitened using a lamp.
This doesn’t mean that the whitening results will last forever. To mitigate the tooth discoloration, the patient spends the next few weeks using a dental tray to place the whitening solution on their teeth. This usually lasts for around three weeks.
You might not turn the sands of time on your tetracycline-stained teeth, but fear not—you won’t need to have them forever.