The Link Between Certain Medications and Tooth Discoloration

The Link Between Certain Medications and Tooth Discoloration

You need an antibiotic to clear up an infection or you’re taking antihistamines to combat spring fever. These are two examples in which the medications you take may lead to staining in your teeth.

In this month’s blog post, the team here at Peninsula Dental Excellence, led by Drs. Jeff Yoshihara and Colin Au, want to take a closer look at how certain medications can discolor your teeth. Despite the unfortunate side effect, the good news is that we offer solutions that can help keep your health on track while keeping your teeth white and bright.

The common culprits

You take medications to improve your health, but sometimes there are unwanted side effects, such as tooth discoloration.

The most common culprits when it comes to unwanted stains on your teeth include:


Certain commonly prescribed antibiotics, such as tetracycline, ciprofloxacin, and doxycycline, are now used more judiciously in children due to the potential of serious tooth discoloration.

For pregnant women and children, doctors steer clear of these antibiotics because the medication interferes with the calcium young bodies use to create teeth.

This type of staining is extremely tough and we consider it intrinsic (from the inside), rather than surface staining (extrinsic).

As an adult, you can usually take these antibiotics without too many problems as any staining that results from the medication develops on the surface of your teeth, which we can easily remove.


If you struggle with allergies and you routinely take antihistamines, your teeth can develop stains. This is due to the fact that the antihistamines suppress saliva production and your mouth relies on saliva to clear away and break down stain-causing substances.

Hypertension medications

If you’re taking medications to control your blood pressure, some can lead to dry mouth. As with the antihistamines we mention above, the lack of saliva in your mouth may allow more stains to build up.

Too much fluoride

You want to make sure that your child gets enough fluoride to protect their teeth, but there can be too much of a good thing. If you inundate your child’s mouth with too much fluoride, it can lead to white stains in their teeth. In more advanced cases of fluorosis, your child’s teeth can become permanently stained brown.

Getting back to white

How we go about restoring the white color to your teeth depends upon whether the staining is intrinsic or extrinsic. For surface stains, a professional cleaning usually does the trick as we’re able to easily clear away the discolorations. For more stubborn stains, we can turn to professional teeth whitening.

If you’re dealing with well-embedded intrinsic staining, we might recommend cosmetic dentistry services, such as dental veneers.

To figure out which solution is right for you, please contact our office Mountain View, California, to set up an appointment.

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