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Ask Dr. Gott 10/20
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    DEAR DR. GOTT: I was born in the late 1960s and became very ill when I was 3. Doctors prescribed me tetracycline. I think it was the antibiotic of choice back then.
    Could it cause adult teeth to yellow? Since my adult teeth first appeared, they have been yellow. They are strong, healthy and, thanks to braces, straight, but I hate opening my mouth because of the discoloration. I have had every bleaching system available done but none worked. I even had porcelain veneers, but those, too, have turned yellow. What can I do? Is tetracycline still being used today?
    DEAR READER: Tetracycline and similar antibiotics, including doxycycline (commonly used to treat Lyme disease) can cause permanent tooth discoloration (yellow, gray or brown) in children. It is seen more frequently in children who require long-term treatment but has occurred after short-term use as well. For this reason, it is no longer routinely prescribed during the tooth-growth phase (last half of gestation up to about age 8).
    Tetracycline is still in use today. It is primarily for adults but may be used in children who are allergic or otherwise sensitive to other drugs or have an infection that is resistant to other antibiotics.
    Because I am not a dentist, I do not know what procedure would restore the color of your teeth or even whether one is available. The fact that your veneers also changed color leads to me believe that perhaps part of your tooth discoloration is due to diet. The reason tetracycline can cause permanent tooth discoloration is because it is partially absorbed by the developing teeth. Teeth already in place do not change color because they are already formed. The same should hold true for the veneers.
    See an orthodontist, who can give you more information and may be able to suggest new whitening procedures.

    DEAR DR. GOTT: I read with interest your answer to the elderly woman seeking attention to her daily well being. While I wholeheartedly endorse Lifeline, the system is of little service to a victim who is unconscious or worse.
    However, there is another resource available for the elderly and physically challenged that can monitor their well-being no matter what their status. In my township, it is called Operation ReAssurance, and it puts participants in daily telephone contact with police personnel.
    As administrator of our free program, I have all too often seen its effectiveness whenever the worst should occur, but I have also been personal witness to its having saved more than three dozen lives over the past 20 years. Moreover, beyond a verification of well-being, a police-operated program can provide seniors with timely updates about fraud or other crimes being perpetrated upon their communities.
    I encourage all police departments to establish similar programs. If any police department personnel would like more information about the program or wants to learn how to start one, they can contact me at 609-581-4033. I also urge all seniors or physically challenged people to contact their local police departments to determine if this type of program is available.
    DEAR READER: Thank you for writing to share this information. I would also like to encourage my readers to find out whether their communities offer similar programs and, if not, to urge their police departments to start one. It can be a life-saving and invaluable assistance to the elderly and physically challenged.
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