There are many ways for your teeth to become stained. It may be a result of a lifetime of drinking coffee and wine. Or it could be a result of old age wearing away the enamel. But while these stains happen over time, there’s one particular cause of tooth discoloration that children are particularly vulnerable to: tetracycline. Learn more about how this drug can affect developing teeth – and how it can be treated by your cosmetic dentist in Valparaiso.
What is Tetracycline?
Tetracycline is an antibiotic that’s used to fight acne and other types of infections. It was widely used on children between 1950 and 1980 before its effects on teeth were understood.
How Does Tetracycline Affect Teeth?
When tetracycline is consumed by children under the age of 8 or by pregnant women, it can interfere with teeth that have yet to develop. The drug calcifies on the tooth, causing stains that can be colored grey, yellow, or brown; the amount and type of medicine used affect how severe the discoloration is.
While ultimately harmless, tetracycline stains are obvious and permanent, lasting well into adulthood; this can cause low self-esteem of those growing up with discolored teeth, making them more reluctant to smile. Also, they’re intrinsic stains, meaning they’re inside the tooth and are very difficult to remove.
What Can a Cosmetic Dentist Do About Tetracycline Stains?
Your dentist has a few ways to improve the appearance of teeth that have been altered by tetracycline. For example, professional whitening can be used in mild cases. This type of treatment uses a special gel that enters the teeth to remove intrinsic stains, creating a whiter appearance.
If the discoloration is too severe, a crown or a porcelain veneer can be used to cover the natural tooth. Veneers can be particularly effective, as they’re custom-fitted to slip over the natural tooth and can create a natural look. Crowns can hide the staining as well, but they may require more preparation of the tooth. Additionally, crowns are usually expected to last 5 to 15 years, while veneers may last 12 to 25 years if well-cared for.
If you’ve dealt with tetracycline stains all your life, schedule an appointment with your cosmetic dentist in Valparaiso. They’ll evaluate your tooth to see how severe the condition is and will give appropriate choices for treatment. Make sure you set realistic expectations and understand the effects of each procedure. Don’t let some medicine from years ago keep you from pursuing a better smile!