There are times that certain medications administered for curing
an ailment may cause other illness, which are harder to treat.
Many drugs can cause unwanted and unfavorable side effects on
It has been noticed that some medicines are able to change the
full structure of the teeth, like internal and external discoloration
and erosion of the tooth structure (enamel, dentin and cementum)
that makes teeth very sensitive.
Drugs can be grouped according to the type of side effects they
have on the teeth.
- Tooth discoloration happens when the teeth lose its natural
color both internally and externally
- Structural damage involves
the enamel, dentin and cementum
- Tooth sensitivity, when the
teeth are very responsive to heat and cold
When the natural brilliant white color of the teeth is stained
and left darkened or faded behind the teeth and looks untidy
and ugly, it is called tooth discoloration.
Exterior tooth discoloration is the discoloration of the surface
of the tooth which is highly visible in the oral cavity. Famous
medications resulting to exterior discoloration are chlorhexidine,
liquid oral iron salts, essential oils and coamoxiclay.
It is noticed that the teeth turned yellow to brown after liquid
antibiotics that usually contain amoxicillin, doxycycline or
minocycline have been taken. Brushing is effective in removing
the surface discoloration when done vigorously at home or professionally
by a dentist.
Internal tooth discoloration is the change of color from the
inside and is likely to be permanent. This results from drugs
which react with the structure of the teeth resulting to discoloration.
Fluorides, Tetracycline, Ciprofloxacin, and Minocycline are known
agents causing the discoloration.
Though fluoride is trusted in preventing tooth decay, it may
cause side effects if taken for a long period of time. It is
mixed in toothpastes and water and is taken orally. High fluoride
intake at the stage where the tooth is about to erupt leaves
it sensitive to a conditioned called “fluorisis,” which
is characterized by white flecks on the tooth cusp or dark stains
and grooves on the enamel surface.
Back in 1960 tetracycline was proved to cause tooth discoloration.
During the development stage of the tooth, tetracycline is permanently
enclosed to the calcified tooth structure. Pregnant women who
took tetracycline during the fourth to the ninth month of their
pregnancy had babies with discolored teeth. Teeth will become
bright yellow to gray or brown if administered during the tooth
Minocycline is usually used in curing acute disfiguring cases
of acne, skin diseases, eczema, asthma and other breathing disorders,
rheumatoid arthritis and as a supplement medication for periodontal
ailments. It is derived from tetracycline. In some patients tooth
discoloration is observed after taking Minocycline. After a month
to a year of Minocycline treatment, the staining starts to show
up. It takes a long period of time to observe it because staining
starts from within.
Ciprofloxacin is used to treat pneumonia. It is administered
10 to 40 mg per kg of body weight per day to infants. The teeth
have a permanent green color at eruption.
Physical damage to tooth structure caused by drugs
Some drugs have compounds which are able to damage the form
of the tooth by erosion and dental caries. Cough syrups, other
tonics, and other over-the-counter medicines have sugar additives.
These sugars can cause caries if the mouth is not rinsed after
taking the medications.
Erosion is caused by acids released by medicines used to cure
gastro-intestinal disorders. These are also believed to be caused
by some aspirins and mouthwashes. Powdered medications taken
by patients suffering from asthma runs a bigger risk of tooth
erosion since it is more acidic in nature than the aerosols.
Dry Mouths: The saliva plays an important role in keeping the
mouth protected and healthy. Some drugs that result to drying
up or lessen the
production of the saliva will cause the teeth to be sensitive
to caries and other infections.
Internal Tooth Bleaching or Whitening: Drugs containing high
amounts of hydrogen peroxide and sodium peborate are administered
to the teeth to enhance its beauty.
The teeth are exposed to high intensity heat to hasten and improve
the process. This has proved to be harmful to teeth as proved
by data research, which came up with a co-relation between
internal tooth bleaching and damage of the cervical root. Extreme
heat and bleach together lessen the natural rigidity of dentin
and enamel, resulting to weakening of the tooth structure.
Anticonvulsant prescription drugs: Anticonvulsant medicines
administered during pregnancy have been proven to cause some
and delay of growth.
Some abnormalities of the posterior teeth of the upper jaw is
also believed to be caused by these drugs.
Children under 5 years taking medicines for cancer and leukemia
experienced abnormal dental conditions in different degrees,
depending upon the patient’s age, dosage and the treatment
duration. These abnormalities include missing teeth, microdontia
and deficient development of the tooth.
Sensitivity of the teeth to heat and cold
may be caused by external bleaching which subjects the teeth
to extreme heat and hydrogen peroxide. It takes 4 to 5 days after
treatment before it will be normal.
Finally, it is necessary that medical professionals are aware
of the possible side effects of the medications they prescribe
to their patients. A certain medicine should only be prescribed
after a thorough weighing of the benefits and the potential side
effects is done.