Stained Teeth, Tetracycline Teeth

Cosmetic Dental Procedures for Tetracycline-stained Teeth

Some teeth contain heavy internal stains that are either hereditary or caused by certain medications that were administered during tooth development. The most common stains of this kind are the ones caused by Tetracycline antibiotics. They often display a typical pattern of generally brownish-gray teeth with even darker horizontal lines. Tetracycline stains are permanent due to the ability of tetracycline and its derivatives to chelate calcium ions (reference 1). The patterns and the hues of the discolorations vary depending on the time and length of administration and the particular tetracycline derivative. Even adults with completely developed teeth can develop adult-onset tooth discoloration following long-term ingestion of tetracycline and minocycline (reference 2).

Long-term vital bleaching of tetracycline-stained teeth over months may lead to acceptable color changes, but may involve long-term post-treatment dental sensitivity (reference 3). In addition, dental bleaching has been shown to reduce the surface hardness of enamel (reference 4). While some studies have reported that dental bleaching is relatively safe and its side effects are only transient (reference 5), other studies have concluded that tooth-whitening products should be used with caution and for limited periods of time (reference 6). It has been demonstrated that bleaching agents have toxic effects on dental pulp cells (reference 7).

In many cases, tetracycline-stained teeth are not just discolored but also display surface defects, cavities, and wear. This may be contributed to the inferior enamel quality due to a disturbance of normal amelogenesis during tetracycline administration (reference 8). Various studies have demonstrated the deleterious effects of tetracycline on amelogenesis and enamel. (references 9 to 11)

Tetracycline-stained Teeth without Porcelain VeneersTetracycline-stained Teeth with Porcelain Veneers


Aged teeth before cosmetic dentistryAged teeth after cosmetic dentistry

Examples of Tetracycline-stained teeth:

Stained teeth without porcelain laminatesStained teeth after placement of porcelain laminatesStained and misaligned teeth after treatment with cosmetic dentistryStained and misaligned teeth before treatment with cosmetic dentistry


  1. Sanchez AR. Tetracycline and other tetracycline-derivative staining of the teeth and oral cavity. Int J Dermatol 2004; 43(10): 709-715.
  2. McKenna BE. Minocycline-induced staining of the adult permanent dentition: a review of the literature and report of a case. Dent Update 1999; 26(4): 160-162.
  3. Tsubura S. Clinical evaluation of three months' nightguard vital bleaching on tetracycline-stained teeth using Polanight 10% carbamide gel: 2-year follow-up study. Odontology. 2010; 98(2): 134-138.
  4. Eifallah HM. A review of the effect of vital teeth bleaching on the mechanical properties of tooth enamel. N Z Dent J. 2013; 109(3): 87-96.
  5. Auschill TM. Randomized clinical trial of the efficacy, tolerability, and long-term color stability of two bleaching techniques: 18-month follow-up. Quintessence Int. 2012; 43(8): 683-694.
  6. Lucier RN. Soft-tissue alterations following exposure to tooth-whitening agents. J Periodontol. 2013; 84(4): 513-519.
  7. Lima AF. Toxic effects of daily applications of 10% carbamide peroxide on odontoblast-like MDPC-23 cells. Acta Odontol Scand. 2013; 71(5): 1319-1325
  8. Ranggard L.Tetracycline as a marker in hard tissue research: effects on enamel formation in rat maxillary incisors. Scand J Dent Res. 1989; 97(5): 381-386.
  9. Westergaard J. Dose and age dependent variations in effect of tetracycline on enamel formation in rat. Scand J Dent Res. 1975; 83(1): 209-232.
  10. McIntosh HA. Tetracycline-induced tooth changes. Part 4: discoloration and hypoplasia induced by tetracycline analogues. Med J Aust. 1970; I: 114.
  11. Hilton HB. Tetracyclines in bones and teeth. Br Med J 1962; 2(5316): 1403.