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Tetracycline teeth: signs of the disease and the therapy

tetracycline teeth many peoples disease

Some patients come to the dentist with the problem of a strong discoloration of tooth enamel – from light gray to dark brown. The full name for this phenomenon is as follows – tetracycline staining of teeth.

This diagnosis is based on many factors, including not only change of color, but also the degree of hypoplasia, i.e. underdevelopment of dental tissues.

Of course, the fact that the enamel does not have the desired brightness and attractiveness is not pleasant. However, many people may not pay attention to it.

But what if tetracycline teeth were diagnosed? Does this phenomenon have any unpleasant consequences and should it be treated? And if required, how to treat the disease? These questions we will answer in detail.

Description of the problem and symptoms

What is the origin of this name? The fact is, that exactly the group of tetracycline antibiotics, which are taken by the patient during the most important period of the formation and development of hard tissue of teeth, promote such changes in their color.

Tetracycline was first noticed by chemists and pharmacists only in the early fifties of the last century. Up to this day, this substance is included in the list of the most important medicines, which is compiled by the World Health Organization.

Antibiotics of this group have a very large list of indications for use, as its action is effective in a variety of diseases. That is why in the period when it was first noticed and up to the eighties was prescribed to a large number of patients. Among them, there were pregnant women and children, who have not yet reached the age of 12 years.

Around this time, a strange disease quickly started to spread, in which the color of the teeth was not natural, and they as well could have other malformations.


Symptoms of this phenomenon are quite varied. Almost always, the extent of the disease and, consequently, the symptoms depend on the dose of tetracycline, which was taken by the patient.

  • Partial pigmentation of enamel appears in changing the color only in some areas of separate teeth.
  • The total change of the normal color of enamel.
  • The most intensely different shade is most often seen at such disease in the cervical areas of the dentition, that is where the teeth join the gums.
  • Large dosages of the tetracycline group can provoke not only discoloration but also hypoplasia of an enamel itself.
a painted enamel while taking tetracycline

Photo: tetracycline teeth

The options of enamel color in this disease should be also described:

  • yellow;
  • lemon-yellow;
  • gray;
  • muddy or dark gray;
  • grayish-yellow;
  • orange;
  • brown.

Color may be not even and vary throughout the length of the teeth. However, in almost all cases the color change takes place not only on the enamel surface but also in the inner layers.

Causes for onset

The only reason for the formation of tetracycline-stained teeth is a treatment with this group of antibiotics in certain periods of life and human development.

Tetracycline is used to treat cholera, lung inflammation, ulcers of various kinds and so on and so forth. All these diseases are quite complex. For their treatment, a complex approach is used. Therefore, in many cases, doctors cannot do without effective drugs such as tetracycline.

The mechanism of the impact of tetracycline

Only in the eighties, scientists studied the relationship between these changes and taking tetracycline drugs. The fact is, that these substances, by entering the body during the mineralization of teeth, bind with calcium and form further effect on tissue structure.

Since calcium is one of the main components of the enamel and all the hard tissue of teeth, their structure may strongly suffer after effects of tetracycline. The drug may react with calcium only during mineralization.

Therefore, the most vulnerable categories are children and pregnant women. Children – because they have this process up to the complete formation of the dentition. As for pregnancy, at this time, there is a formation of teeth row in the fetus.

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Before the treatment of this problem, you must make sure that the color change and other symptoms were provoked by just taking drugs of tetracycline group. You also need to eliminate the influence on the enamel of any other factors that can change its color.

To diagnose, primarily, a thorough external examination is carried out. The doctor must determine whether there is enamel hypoplasia, as well as to determine the color of the teeth, as one of the possible in this disease.

Medical record data are also needed, more precisely, the part that says about the appointment of tetracycline.

One of the most important and effective methods of diagnosis is the use of ultraviolet light. Under the rays of ultraviolet lamp areas where the tetracycline is, will produce a characteristic fluorescent glow.

The more intense it is, the greater the amount of the substance is in the tissue and the deeper layers are affected.

How to treat?

tetracycline teeth and treatmentTreatment of the disease is necessary for several reasons. First of all, it is, of course, to restore the aesthetics of the dentition and the natural color of teeth. A beautiful white smile is important in everyone’s life.

In addition, there is a possible defeat of the enamel itself can cause other dental diseases that already threaten the integrity of the dentition.

In all forms of tetracycline staining, the treatment is a fairly large variety of complex procedures and takes place in several stages.


There is a need to conduct a complete sanation of dentition. It includes a professional hygiene and cleaning of teeth from all leftovers, treatment of caries and other procedures aimed at removing possible foci of infection and recovery of the functionality of a dentition.


Any treatment of tetracycline teeth will necessarily begin with a so-called remineralizing therapy. It is held to strengthen all the tissues of the teeth, but mostly the top layer – enamel, before the subsequent procedures.

Remineralization of teeth is aimed at a thorough restoration of the structure of an enamel using various special procedures. These elements are fluorine, calcium and phosphorous. Various compounds form the basis of tooth enamel – hydroxyapatite.

The course of this therapy can take a long time – about a month. In fact, it may take from 15 to 20 procedures when the application of phonons and electrophoresis are applied using compounds of essential minerals. Such procedures should be done every day or every other day.

Here are some drugs used in remineralizing therapy.

  • Sodium fluoride solution in a concentration of 0.2%.
  • A solution of calcium gluconate – 10%.
  • Remodent. Contains active minerals: calcium (4.35%), magnesium (0.15%), sodium (16%), phosphorus (1.35%), chlorine (30%), potassium (0.2%) and other important trace elements and organic substances.

Covering with Phthorlacum substance

After the restoration of the structure in most cases, the tooth surface is coated with a special substance, which was called Phthorlacum. It consists of several components – chloroform, sodium fluoride, ethyl alcohol, shellac and balsam fir.

This procedure is a logical continuation of remineralization because thanks to the coating enamel continue to be filled with necessary minerals. Furthermore, after drying this substance becomes a solid and very thin layer, which gives extra protection for teeth.

Also, Phtorlacum substance has a positive effect on the microflora in the mouth. This allows not only to prevent the development of aggressive microorganisms but also to protect the gums and mucous membranes.

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Further treatment

Further treatment depends on how strong were the destruction and changes in the structure. It can be either bleaching using various techniques or restoration of teeth with very serious injuries.

For example, if the defects are too large, and the coloring is intensive, the best option is to restore the appearance and to prevent further damage will be restoration with porcelain veneers.

They are thin plates made of ceramic materials, which are mounted on the front surface of the teeth after the preliminary preparatory grinding.

Can they be bleached?

may tetracycline teeth be bleachedOne of the most popular dental procedures is teeth whitening. In the case of tetracycline, staining procedure can be prescribed only when enamel color is changed not too much. In addition, these changes must be even.

There are two variants of the procedure, which are considered to be quite effective –  laser and applying the technique called Zoom whitening of the teeth. In both cases, chemical properties of the oxygen and its compounds are used for deep penetration into hard tissues.

For both methods, a special gel that contains hydrogen peroxide is used. During exposure catalysts to the gel (e.g., a laser beam), an active oxygen is released from it, which provokes bleaching of darkened areas.


Tetracycline teeth are a rather common problem, in spite of the specific reasons for its occurrence. A lot of people have already experienced the procedures of the return of normal color and structure of the teeth, which were affected by taking medicine containing tetracycline.

You can share your experiences on this, leaving a comment to this article.

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