There are many reasons why teeth become discolored, such as from smoking and consuming certain foods and drinks (e.g. coffee). However, the medications you take can also be a source of tooth discoloration. Here are two that can stain your teeth and what you can do to fix the problem.


Tetracycline is an antibiotic used to treat a variety of illnesses and conditions, including acne and infections. While it is effective at handling these issues, it can leave its mark on patients in the form of discolored teeth. However, this is only a problem for kids who take the drug before or during the process of growing their second set of teeth and for pregnant women in their last trimester (it can affect the babies). The discoloration occurs because the drug bonds to developing teeth and essentially bakes the discoloration into the enamel.

Unfortunately, this means the discoloration generally cannot be bleached away with teeth whitening treatments, especially if the teeth are dark or the discoloration occurs throughout the entire tooth. The best option for fixing tetracycline-discolored teeth is to get veneers, which are essentially a thin covering of porcelain or composite material. The dentist will get the veneer in the shade that best matches your appearance and preferences and cover your stained teeth with it.

Veneers can correct a variety of tooth issues besides discoloration, such as covering up chips. However, they can cost anywhere from $925 to $2,500 per tooth depending on your dentist and where you live. They are fairly durable, though, lasting up to 15 years when properly cared for.


Another type of medication that can cause discoloration in teeth is antihistamines. Generally used to help people deal with allergic reactions, these medicines can cause tooth staining in two ways.

First, some antihistamines cause oral dryness. Saliva is integral for removing food particles from the mouth. Reduced saliva production means substances from foods and drinks remain on the teeth for longer periods of time, leading to stains. Second, dry mouth also allows harmful bacteria to proliferate. The waste products they produce erode teeth, resulting in stains from cavities and tartar buildup.

Luckily, tooth discoloration caused by antihistamines is fairly easy to fix. Most of the time, a teeth whitening treatment is all you need, which costs an average of $650 for in-office treatments. However, it's essential you correct the underlying problem—dry mouth—before or after the treatment; otherwise, you'll only end up in the same situation down the road. To maintain your bright teeth and prevent bacteria from damaging your smile, use a teeth whitening, medicated mouth rinse to maintain your results.

For more information about medications that can discolor teeth or solutions to this problem, contact a cosmetic dentist.