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Tetracycline & Other Gray Teeth Causes


Chances are, anyone you’ve met with gray teeth was most likely born before the 1980s and may have been given a powerful antibiotic called tetracycline at an early age. Tetracycline is an antibiotic medication designed to fight bacterial infections in your body, such as urinary tract infections, acne and other infections, that has been proven to cause tooth discoloration. Gray teeth stains can be caused by the use of tetracycline antibiotics in children under the age of 8 or pregnant mothers. Tetracycline is an antibiotic medication designed to fight bacterial infections, such as urinary tract infections, respiratory tract infections, gonorrhea, acne, rosacea, and others. Prior to the 1980s, this widely used antibiotic was often given to pregnant women or children under the age of 8 whose teeth were not fully developed. The resulting discoloration can affect an entire tooth, or can form horizontal stain bands—almost like stripes—that can range from light to very dark.  Fortunately, science discovered the cause of gray teeth and now physicians try to stay away from prescribing tetracycline to pregnant women and children. Other Causes of Gray Teeth Did your teeth become gray when you were a child? If you had gray teeth when you were little, it could be important to consult with a dental professional to diagnose one of the following health conditions. Whether you grew up with gray teeth or know someone with a grayish tint to their teeth, you may wonder what caused this type of tooth discoloration. In addition to tetracycline, gray teeth can also be caused by:

  • Dentinogenesis Imperfecta: This condition is a disorder that impacts tooth development and causes teeth to become discolored and translucent. It also weakens the teeth, putting them at risk for damage, breakage, and loss. This hereditary condition affects an estimated one in every 6,000 to 8,000 people.

  • Trauma: Damage to the mouth from trauma can cause gray teeth stains. Either from a blow or fall can disturb enamel formation in kids whose teeth are still developing. The disruption to developing teeth can cause gray teeth stains. Trauma also can cause gray teeth stains in older children and adults whose teeth are fully developed. The trauma may disrupt the blood flow to a tooth or teeth and cause gray teeth stains.

  • Metal: Some materials used by dentists to repair teeth, such as silver fillings, may contribute to gray teeth stains over time.

Also, some people have teeth that are naturally grayish, and they may feel like they have gray teeth stains even if they don’t. No matter the cause of your gray teeth, if you're concerned, consult your dental or health professional.  How to Treat Gray Teeth Adults who have gray teeth and are looking for a brighter, whiter smile may choose to consult a dental or health professional to discuss treatment options, which range from at-home whitening products to comprehensive dental work such as crowns or veneers. Your dental professional may recommend a wide variety of treatments designed to help whiten gray teeth, giving you every opportunity to enjoy a perfect smile in adulthood.

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© 2018 THOMAS C. VOLCK D.D.S 

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