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Medicines That Stain Your Teeth

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications


When irritating minor or major health problems strike, you naturally turn to medication to make your body feel better. But did you know that those same compounds that help you heal could have adverse effects on your teeth? Your illness might be gone, but now that you have something to smile about, you might not want to show your teeth! Below are some types of medicines to take note of. Always check with your healthcare provider for alternate medication before making any changes to your medication routine.


A particular type of medicine which may lead to staining is tetracycline . As a broad-spectrum antibiotic, it is used in a wide variety of treatments including acne. Young children and pregnant women should take particular care. Unless otherwise advised by physicians, nursing mothers or expectant mothers should avoid tetracycline in the last half of pregnancy as it can affect the future appearance of babies’ teeth.


Antihistamines relieve symptoms of allergies and hay fever, but can also cause tooth discoloration in some cases . Although antihistamine medications alleviate itchiness and a runny nose, they may have staining implications.

Anti-hypertension medication

Certain medicines used to treat high blood pressure, including angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, beta-blockers, heart rhythm medications, and diuretics, can cause side effects like dry mouth . Dry mouth makes swallowing and digestion difficult, greatly increasing the risks of tooth decay and teeth staining . Talk to your healthcare provider about alternative medication options or try chewing sugar-free gum to stimulate saliva flow.


In many parts of Asia-Pacific, traditional tribes still chew betel nut, a mildly addictive seed that some believe to have health benefits . Its distinctive red coloring and can also severely stain teeth and gums .

Common Sense Prevails

Some medicines can have adverse effects on your teeth, and the seriousness varies. In some cases teeth staining is so strong that it is practically irreversible, whereas others can be solved with a simple cleaning by your dentist. When it comes to medication, just use common sense: read through the side effects of a prescription before you start dosing, and ask your doctor about potential reactions.

Don't forget that some medicines can be sold under several different names depending on the region or supplier, so just because your new medicine has a different name doesn't mean it lacks the compound that could spoil your smile. Naturally, before you even think about discontinuing a prescription, always check with your healthcare provider first.