Tetracycline Teeth and Children

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One preventable dental conditions that can present in adults is tetracycline teeth. The condition is caused when children younger than 8 years old are prescribed the antibiotic tetracycline. It usually affects the permanent teeth development by causing a band of grayish color to appear within the enamel layer when they fully erupt into the mouth. Depending on the amount of antibiotic taken, the discoloration can be very noticeable, especially if the staining is blue or gray. Read on to learn who is at risk for tetracycline stains and if a white smile can ever be achieved.

Who Is at Risk for Tetracycline Teeth?

There are two groups of patients who should avoid using tetracycline if at all possible. Firstly, expecting mothers. Taking tetracycline while pregnant can be passed on to the growing baby and may cause discoloring and malformation of the infant's future teeth.

Secondly, children younger than 8 are at risk for stains. The use of tetracycline in young children can lead to bands of discoloration on the permanent teeth, especially the anterior (front) ones, confirms a study published by the Journal of International Oral Health.

Since there are many other types of antibiotics available, pediatricians and obstetricians may prescribe treatments other than tetracycline. Consult your doctor and he or she will advise you on the best antibiotic for your or your child's special case.

Treating Tetracycline Teeth

Dentists have a variety of methods to treat tetracycline teeth. Here are a few options, ordered from the most conservative to complicated, as well as the most economical to expensive methods:

  • At-home whitening products. A Colgate Optic White Professional Whitening Take-­Home Kit is available only through a dental professional, and may be sufficient to remove tetracycline teeth stains. In addition to applying the gel per your dentist's advice, you can brush with a whitening toothpaste that is safe for daily use, such as Colgate Optic White Radiant.
  • In-office bleaching. This procedure is done at the dentist's office and consists of a more concentrated bleaching material that has to be applied by a dentist.
  • Composite or porcelain veneers. This procedure consists of physically removing some of the enamel on the affected teeth and bonding tooth-colored filling material or porcelain shells called veneers directly to your teeth.

Prevention is the best method to avoid the dental condition caused by the use of tetracycline, but treatment choices are best discussed with your dentist to ensure your oral and overall health.

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