Tetracycline (Mucous Membrane, Oral)

Tetracycline (Mucous Membrane, Oral Route) is an antibacterial drug used to treat periodontal disease.


Tetracycline periodontal fibers treat periodontal disease caused by bacteria that grow beneath the gum line. Tetracycline greatly reduces the number of bacteria that can grow. When fewer bacteria are present, the amount of inflammation and swelling in the area decreases and your gums don't bleed as badly. Your dentist places Tetracycline fibers in inflamed areas of the mouth areas after thoroughly cleaning your teeth.

After tetracycline periodontal fibers are put in your mouth, you should avoid anything that can knock them loose, such as:

  • Hard crusts, chewing gum and sticky foods
  • Brushing floss treated areas (clean the other teeth as usual)
  • Using a Water-Pik
  • Picking at the fibers with your tongue or fingers.

Condition(s) treated?

  • Periodontal Disease

Type of medicine?

  • Antibacterial

Side Effects

Check with your dentist if you experience pain or swelling in the treated portions of your mouth. Remember that, after 10 days, the dentist needs to remove the tetracycline periodontal fibers. Don't miss scheduled dental appointments following this treatment.

Along with the required impacts, medicines sometimes produce unexpected side effects. Generally, every person won't experience each side effect. Not all side effects require medical attention.

The first category below requires immediate consultant with your physician.

Rare Side Effects

  • Red, swollen, painful gums
  • Red, painful tongue

Other side effects are more common and don't require medical attention. These side effects typically go away with no intervention as your body grows accustomed to the medication. Also, you can ask your doctor or dentist how to prevent or reduce these common side effects. Meanwhile, if any of these symptoms linger or worsen, seek medical aid:

More common side effects

  • Discomfort where fibers are located
  • Redness in area once fibers are taken out


  • Scratchy, sore throat
  • Stained tongue
  • Tongue develops white patches

Other side effects can occur that are not listed, since everyone has a potential to react uniquely. Contact your dentist to describe unusual side effects.

If you wish to report your experience to the FDA, call them directly at 1-800-FDA.

The following categories and descriptions are listed for healthcare professionals, but may be useful to patients as well:

Gastrointestinal side effects

Gastrointestinal side effects have included anal or genital lesions with thrush or any of the following:

Rarely, esophagal ulceration occurs when taking as an oral tablets or capsules.

Patients have reported esophagal ulcers after receiving oral tetracycline therapy. In each case, the patient took the medicine before bed with a small amount of liquid. Patients experienced chest pain and painful swallowing. The ulcers went away once tetracycline therapy ended. To minimize esophagal irritation resulting in ulcers, you can avoid taking the medicine just before bed and take it with lots of water.

Oral ulcers can develop if you empty the tetracycline solution into water.

Renal (kidney)

Renal side effects typically impact you if you had preexisting kidney disease and happen when the tetracycline accumulates. Increases in blood urea nitrogen (BUN) is common because of the tetracycline's antibacterial effect but isn't necessarily a sign for alarm.

Fanconi's syndrome includes inadequate reabsorption in the proximal renal tubules of the kidney. The syndrome is caused by adverse drug reactions and can occur following the use of expired tetracycline. Additionally, prior formulation of the medicine included citric acid which can cause metabolic acidosis. You may require hospitalization with IV medication to correct these metabolic issues. Most cases resolve once you stop taking tetracycline.

Dermatologic (skin)

Dermatologic side effects include:

  • Nail discoloration
  • Onycholysis
  • Photosensitivity
  • Maculopapular and erythematous rashes
  • Exfoliative dermatitis


Musculoskeletal side effects after taking tetracycline, for adults, include:

  • Tooth discoloration
  • Enamel hypoplasia
  • Reduced linear skeletal growth

Tetracycline should not be used for pregnant or nursing mother or children under 12. Tetracycline accumulates in calcium-rich osseous tissue and this causes the side effects above.

Nervous system

You may experience benign intracranial hypertension after tetracycline therapy. However, this is most typical in patients using tetracycline for acne. Side effects include nausea, severe headaches and blurred vision. Physical examination showed a swollen option nerve (papilledema) in those cases. Many patients also experience a lot of pressure during the lumbar puncture. All patients recovered once the medication was no longer being taken. The reason some people experience increased intracranial pressure is unknown.

Hematologic (blood)

Hematologic side effects may include:

Extremely rare cases of tetracycline-induced hemolytic anemia have occurred. In both cases, the anemia went away on its own once discontinuation of tetracycline occurred. The reason for this side effect isn't fully understood.


Hypersensitivity side effects include:

  • Anaphylactoid purpura
  • Angioneurotic edema
  • Urticaria
  • Anaphylaxis
  • Worsening of lupus erythematosus
  • Hypersensitivity myocarditis
  • Fever, rash, arthralgia


  • Liver (hepatic) side effects may be related to dosage and include:
  • Hepatotoxicity
  • Increased liver enzyme levels
  • Liver failure
  • Bile duct paucity with prolonged cholestasis (reduction of bile flow)

Other side effects you might experience after using tetracycline include massive infection caused by the overgrowth of resistant organisms. The long-term use of tetracyclines can cause a discoloration of the thyroid gland, but abnormal thyroid function did not seem to occur with this symptom.


Metabolic side effects that have been reported include:

  • Metabolic acidosis
  • Azotemia
  • Hyperphosphatemia

Increases in serum BUN levels related to the antibacterial properties of tetracycline aren't, by themselves an indication of renal disease.


This product comes in these dosage forms:

  • Powder for Suspension
  • Implant

The dose of this medicine can differ from patient to patient. In most cases, this will be administered in the dentist's office as part of periodontal treatment. If instructed to take this medicine at home, follow your doctor's or dentist's instructions and read the directions on the label. The following chronicles normal doses of tetracycline. If your dose doesn't match, don't change the way you are taking it unless your doctor or dentist instructs you otherwise.

Your individual dosage depends on the strength of the tetracycline being administered. It's unlikely you would be prescribed a daily dosage or dosage more than once a day.

The amount of tetracycline periodontal fibers that your dentist puts in your gums depends on a number of factors related to the degree of bacterial infection and other individuals considerations. The amount of tetracycline needed depends on how many teeth are treated in one session and how severe your gum pockets are.


Certain medicines should not be commingled, but in some cases, it is required. There are no specific adverse interactions listed for tetracycline with specific drugs. However, everyone reacts differently to drug therapies and, if you notice anything unusual, you should contact your dentist right away.

After you receive the tetracycline therapy, you should tell your dentist if you plan to take any kind of over-the-counter medication.

Other Interactions

If you normally use alcohol or tobacco, it's a good idea to refrain from doing so immediately before and after your procedure. Ask your dentist when it will be safe to smoke or consume alcohol again.


When you use a medication, you have to weigh the risks against the benefits. Although, if you have to take the medicine to be healthy, you may not have much choice. Your doctor is a great resource in making this decision. For this medicine, the following should be considered:


If you have an allergic reaction to tetracycline after the procedure or have any unusual medical or food allergies, let your dentist know right away. It's also a good idea to reveal any other allergies, such as dyes, animals or preservatives. For non-prescription products, read the label to determine if there is an adverse reaction to tetracycline.


Studies of tetracycline have only been conducted on adults, as it isn't recommended for use to treat children.


Many medicines haven't specifically been tested on older people. Therefore, it might not be fully understood how tetracycline specifically affects elderly patients. There isn't enough specific data that can be used to contrast the impact of the medicine on geriatric age groups.


Store safely away from children. Do not freeze and store away from light and moisture.


Tetracycline is used during periodontal treatments to kill the bacteria that cause gum disease. Appropriate oral hygiene and regular cleanings and dental care can help reduce the bacteria that causes gum disease and, thus, avoid additional applications of tetracycline.

There isn't a lot of information available on interactions with other drugs. There are no precautions to avoid taking any prescription or over-the-counter medicine while being treated with tetracycline.

Since this is primarily used only during dental procedures, questions should be fielded by your dental care provider rather than a physician, if they are available.

Last Reviewed:
December 23, 2017
Last Updated:
April 03, 2018
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