I love the color. In fact, I don’t have a favorite color because I like so many different shades.
Maybe it started when my mom sang me to sleep. She always sang “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” So, I fell asleep every night thinking about rainbows.
Or maybe it was listening to Kermit the Frog singing about that darn “Rainbow Connection.”
Color can be magical. Color can be soothing. Color can be inviting. Take Skittles, for example. You literally get to “taste the rainbow.” I mean … I wanna taste a rainbow. That sounds really fantastic.
Colors can even be symbolic.
The color red is associated with passion, excitement, adventure, and love. Of course, we also associate the color red with heat and stopping at an intersection.
When we see the color yellow, we associate it with warmth, joy, positivity, and fun. We also know that yellow means caution or slow down.
Green makes us think of growth, nature, and luck. Green also makes us think of money and go. (How many times have I sat at a stoplight and said, “Green means go!”? )
There are so many more colors and words that we tie to them. Sometimes the way our thoughts associate colors isn’t always very positive.
Let’s talk about brown. The brown aura is seen as self-centeredness, greed, and being overly opinionated. And rot. I associated brown with rot.
Gray. It’s the overly-used trend in paint colors for your home. It is associated with clouds and confusion. It’s entirely non-committal.
Depending on where we see these colors, the shade of the color, and our personal opinion, we can interpret these colors very differently.
For example, if I see bright red, purple, or pink in someone’s mouth, it is probably part of their orthodontia. Those tiny rubber bands sitting in front of teeth come in all sorts of colors, right?!
Speaking of teeth. The color we happily associate with teeth is white. But teeth don’t just come in white. Teeth can come in various other shades.
Do you know what we associate colored teeth within our minds? Ick.
Yes. Ick. We tend to think that teeth in any shade other than white are kinda gross. We do not have positive thoughts and feelings associated with discolored teeth.
Teeth Colors Are Symbolic, Too.
The following is a list of teeth discolorations and their possible causes:
- Brown teeth: an entire of Dove chocolate, chewing tobacco, cavities, and several antibiotics
- Yellow teeth: yellow hard candy, tartar buildup, and several antibiotics
- Orange teeth: orange dreamsicles, amoxicillin
- Gray teeth: several antibiotics
- Green teeth: green lollipops, ciprofloxacin, or minocycline
- Blue-green teeth: blue and green lollipops, ciprofloxacin, or minocycline
Do you see a trend? Almost all of those discolorations are caused by evil candy or antibiotics. (Okay, so the candy only causes temporary discoloration.) Antibiotics can do some serious damage to the teeth.
The stains left by antibiotics are often intrinsic, meaning they exist inside the tooth. They cannot be brushed away by some good old ADA approved toothpaste.
The Antibiotic Culprits
As you have just read, there are several antibiotics to blame for causing stains on the teeth. As a matter of fact, there are six antibiotics that leave stains on our pearly whites.
They are as follows:
- Doxycycline is used to treat infections such as dental infections, rosacea, dermatitis, chest infections, skin infections, and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
- Augmentin is commonly used to treat ear infections, sinus infections, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and bronchitis.
- Chlorhexidine is an ingredient in mouthwash that is used for treating gingivitis.
- Minocycline treats the same type of infections as tetracycline.
- Ciprofloxacin treats a broad spectrum of diseases, typhoid, infectious diarrhea, pneumonia, gonorrhea, and infections of the joints and bone, skin, abdomen, and prostate. It can be used to treat the inhalation of anthrax and to prevent plagues.
Is it Possible to Remove Antibiotic Stains from Teeth?
The short answer is probably. The long answer to that question is entirely dependent on which antibiotic has caused the stain.
Research tells us that there are different schools of thought as to whether or not the stains resulting from tetracycline can be removed. All of that to say that some research tells you that the stains can be improved, while some of it says that it is impossible to remove tetracycline stains.
Tetracycline gets inside the dentin and causes severe discoloration. It leaves the teeth brown or gray with a visible line across the teeth. These stains are much more challenging to treat.
None of the other antibiotics cause stains to form deep within the dentin. So the stains caused by the remaining antibiotics are much easier to remove.
Methods to Remove Antibiotic Stains from Teeth
Bleaching Tetracycline-Stained Teeth
Bleaching is a common option for whitening teeth. To understand what it means, you need to know how bleaching works for normal teeth.
It’s common for dentists to help their patients choose the most economical method for removing stains. This means using trays that are worn at night. Yep. Bleaching by moonlight.
A standard 10% carbamide peroxide bleaching agent will be your buddy for tray night. It is approved by the American Dental Association and has been researched more than every other bleaching material.
Bleaching teeth stained by tetracycline exposure is not like bleaching teeth stained by coffee, tea, or cigarettes. The amount of time it takes for teeth to improve in color is much, much longer because of the intrinsic tetracycline stains.
The agents used for bleaching and the technique must be precise. You will be using the bleach for as long as twelve to eighteen months.
Bleaching goes beyond the surface to change the color of your teeth. That is why regular whitening toothpaste will absolutely not work on tetracycline stains.
Many of us don’t know about teeth because they respond to treatment, kind of like our skin reacts to the sun. It’s different. There is no one-size-fits-all bleaching treatment that ends with the same results.
Teeth damaged by tetracycline take about three to four months before showing improvement. In some cases, it can take longer than one year. Unfortunately, those teeth may never be truly white. The results will vary depending on several human factors.
The color of the tetracycline stains can range from brown to gray. Brown and yellowish stains are easier to improve upon. The teeth with a greyish cast are tougher. The response of grey teeth to a bleaching agent is unpredictable.
For typical tetracycline stains, bleaching won’t seem to be doing much for a few days. But it gets better. After a few days, average teeth begin to show noticeable results. The teeth will keep improving in color until they hit a whiteness plateau.
Another option for dealing with those nasty tetracycline stains is to have your dentist perform composite bonding. Composite bonding is like putty or modeling clay for your teeth.
In the same way, you would grab some drywall putty to fill in imperfections, dings, and nail holes in your wall; composite bonding is basically rubbed into the teeth to cover up those stains.
If you choose to bond, pick a dentist who has extensive experience using it. For teeth to look natural, your dentist needs to use a bit of artistry. He is like the Michelangelo of your smile.
The composite material comes in many shades. Your dentist should be very picky when it comes to choosing a color that matches your existing tooth so that it blends in with your smile.
Composite bonding should only add to your smile, not give you distracting, mismatched white spots. That would basically defeat the purpose of improving your smile.
Bonding can be done in conjunction with bleaching … but definitely not right after bleaching.
Bleach encourages teeth to release oxygen. That release of oxygen will negatively impact any bonding done right after bleaching. So do not attempt composite bonding for at least two weeks after you’ve completed your bleaching treatment.
Don’t try to use any type of over-the-counter whitening toothpaste during your two-week waiting period. This can affect the shade of your teeth and how they respond to the composite bonding.
Some people believe that veneers are the only option to help improve the look of teeth stained brown or gray by tetracycline. It’s true. Veneers can change the look of any smile.
Porcelain veneers completely cover the front surface of teeth. They act as a shell that is affixed to the front of your smile. Veneers are designed to look just like real teeth … only completely perfect.
Many people believe that this is your only option if you suffer from tetracycline stains in your teeth. While it is a great option, it is also expensive. Veneers can cost anywhere from $400 to $2500 per tooth.
Crowns are an option for covering up tetracycline-stained teeth. It is definitely not our go-to choice for dealing with tetracycline stains.
To have a crown put on your tooth, the dental professional will remove your tooth’s outer layer. Your tooth will be sanded or ground down so that a crown can fit over the top of it. You lose part of your tooth.
I repeat. You lose part of your tooth. Crowns are not our favorite option. We will not suggest that you go with the option that forces you to lose part of your natural tooth.
Removing Orange Amoxicillin Stains
Sometimes it just goes without saying that our children might not be very diligent in brushing their teeth. I know children who pretend to use a toothbrush for a whole week. So, it should come as no surprise that those little people may end up with orange teeth.
(I would never ever insinuate that any of our precious angels would tell a big, fat lie to get out of brushing their teeth.)
Those darn kids. Little do they know that they will have a logical consequence for not taking care of their teeth. Likewise, parents must take their kids for regular check-ups, and adults must continue regular dental checkups.
Unfortunately, regular dental cleaning may not quite cut it if you wait too long. It may take a much deeper cleaning treatment to remove those orange, yellow, or brown stains.
Whitening trays are custom-molded, plastic trays that fit on both the top and bottom teeth. They basically look like a mouth guard used in sports.
Once the trays are fitted to your teeth, they need to be filled with the whitening agent. This can be a gel or foam that you spread onto the trays.
After filling the tray, you pop those trays into your mouth and bite down. Bite down on those trays in the evening to remove antibiotic stains.
The Snow whitening system is a perfect choice if you are ready to try an at-home whitening tray.
For less severe antibiotic stains, whitening toothpaste may do the trick. Many whitening toothpastes are available and can lighten up minor surface stains.
Please keep in mind that you will need to brush twice a day for a minimum of two minutes. Be sure to practice proper oral hygiene, as well. Floss first, then rinse and brush for a few minutes.
The additional things to consider when antibiotics stain teeth include:
- It is best to avoid drinking and eating foods that are known to cause stains while taking antibiotics. The antibiotics, in conjunction with coffee, wine, tea, cola, juices, and other acidic foods, etc., can cause even more staining.
- Consistent proper dental hygiene must be performed. Flossing, rinsing, and brushing your teeth every day, twice a day must happen. You absolutely cannot replace good oral hygiene with a few whitening strips.
- You may find that veneers are your only good option if the stains are permanent. Not to rub it in, but this is a very expensive treatment plan for a completely preventable antibiotic stain. (This does not apply to tetracycline stains because they occur inside the tooth.)
- There are multiple whitening systems to choose from that can be a solution to antibiotic stains. The Snow teeth whitening system is the best at-home whitening system you can buy online. The results with Snow are pretty remarkable!
- Whitening toothpaste is also another option but will not be as effective as an actual whitening system. So if you choose to use whitening toothpaste, you will only use it for minor surface stains.
- Cosmetic bonding is like drywall mud for your smile. Your dentist will match your tooth color and rub the compound into your natural teeth to cover up any discolored spots. This is a process for more extreme stains.
- Professional bleaching is an option that will require a much harsher chemical agent to remove the discoloration from your teeth. You need to do research and be fully committed before choosing to bleach your teeth.
In the End
If you have teeth stained by antibiotics, there is hope. You have multiple choices to change your teeth from funky colors to a more fabulous shade of white.
Colors are fun to sing about and pop into your mouth in little, tiny bite-sized pieces of candy or fruit. (Fruit is a solid choice to taste the rainbow. And it’s better for your teeth.)
But having colors on your teeth is something that nobody has to suffer from, thanks to the magic of teeth whitening.