Tetracyclines Stains: Everything you need know!

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Written by Dr. Qamri

January 7, 2021

There comes a time in everyone’s lives when we must resort to antibiotics to cure bacterial infections. Although most antibiotics do come with mild effects, there is one group in particular we want to focus on since this group has a rather temporal form of side effect. Tetracyclines. 

What is it all about???

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Tetracyclines are the most commonly used broad spectrum antibiotics that are prescribed for various ailments such as Mediterranean fever, acne, malaria, pneumonia, chlamydia to name a few. Most people have been prescribed tetracyclines at least once in their lifetime. However, there are two scenarios where this drug is a complete no-no; pregnant women and children under 8 years of age.

The reason? Tetracyclines are known to cause severe damage to the liver and result in the very infamous tetracycline stains on the teeth. From pre-natal stage until 8 years of age, the teeth of the offspring are in the developmental phase. Tetracyclines, if administered during this phase, binds to the calcium ions of teeth, resulting in stains that vary from light brown to greyish black depending on the severity of dose.

 Stains?! Are they permanent??

Yes! Unlike most other stains that can be removed using cleaning/bleaching/whitening systems, tetracycline stains are tenacious, to the point of being permanent. They are nearly impossibly tough to get rid of, since there is no system developed to interfere with the stains at the molecular level. The best-case scenario is regular cleaning and meticulous maintenance to reduce visibility of these stains.

Are my teeth weaker?

Tetracyclines mainly cause staining and nothing more. The tooth’s structure remains sound and healthy. However, very rare incidents have been reported in severely stained cases, where the enamel has shown cracks. So, if you suspect you have stains, its best to get it checked out by your dentist so that you can understand the severity and take appropriate measures.

So, what are my options?

The most commonly affected teeth are the upper and lower front teeth. That evidently doesn’t not help battle the lack of aesthetics. If the stains are mild, you can opt for regular supervised bleaching, that helps reduce the appearance to a certain degree. However, for moderate to severe stains, there are only more aggressive options available such as crowns and veneers. These are the more permanent solutions to the permanent problems. 

To wrap up

Discoloration is a genuine concern for most; however, one must always seek professional help as opposed to opting for home remedies or fraudulent “tips and tricks” available all across the web. By doing so, you may end up worsening the situation than improving it. Regardless of the severity of the situation, always visit your dentist for the most optimum solutions. Teeth are a unique structure since they lack the ability to repair themselves so make sure you hold up your end of the deal by looking after them.

Summary

 “If the stains are mild, you can opt for regular supervised bleaching, that helps reduce the appearance to a certain degree. However, for moderate to severe stains, there are only more aggressive options available such as crowns and veneers.”

“one must always seek professional help as opposed to opting for home remedies or fraudulent “tips and tricks” available all across the web. By doing so, you may end up worsening the situation than improving it. Regardless of the severity of the situation, always visit your dentist for the most optimum solutions.”

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I passed out from MUHS in 2015 and have been working in the clinics ever since. For me, dentistry is a lot more than fillings, root canals and injections. It’s about effective communication, it’s about educating and guiding the patient to become self-sufficient in mastering the oral health care, and most importantly it’s about having the sense of accountability in whatever treatment I render, big or small! But I’m not all work and no play! In my free time I love to read, binge watching tv shows, play a good video game and nap!
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