Papers And Originals

Prevalence of Tetracyclines in Children's Teeth—Study II: Resurvey after Five Years

Br Med J 1973; 3 doi: (Published 11 August 1973) Cite this as: Br Med J 1973;3:320
  1. D. J. Stewart


    The capacity of the tetracyclines to discolour teeth has been widely recognized for over 10 years. This survey examined recent trends in tetracycline usage as shown by deposits of the antibiotic in primary molars extracted from 505 children aged from 3 to 5 years.

    It was found that 70% of the children had been given the antibiotic during their first three years of life, each having received on average 2·4 courses. This represented an increase of 12% in tetracycline usage in children of this age as compared with a similar series five years ago. There was no evidence of increasing preference by prescribers for oxytetracycline (the analogue least likely to cause dental discoloration). Staining of the permanent incisor teeth frequently occurs if tetracyclines are given to children under 6 years of age and it is predicted that some degree of staining will occur in about 23% of the children in this series.

    All things considered, there appears to be a strong case for stopping the manufacture of paediatric preparations of tetracycline except for those comprised of oxytetracycline for use in exceptional cases.