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Reasons and Remedies for Tooth Discoloration in Kids

It might come as a surprise, but it’s possible for young children and kids to develop stains on their teeth. Although it’s not uncommon to see signs of tooth discoloration, it’s not something that you should ignore. There are several reasons why children’s teeth might develop stains. Some of these reasons are serious while others can be remedied by implementing a few basic oral hygiene practices. Find out more about why the possible reasons why kids develop tooth stains, and discover how they can be prevented and treated.

Factors That Cause Stained Teeth in Children

Poor Brushing Habits

If your child doesn’t brush and floss their teeth consistently, stains can quickly form on teeth. Daily brushing and flossing removes food debris and plaque bacteria before they can form on teeth. If plaque isn’t removed every day, it hardens into a thick substance call tartar. Tartar is generally yellow or brown in color and can only be removed at your child’s dentist’s office.

Dietary habits

Diet is another contributor to tooth stains in children. Foods and drinks high in sugar or acidity (soda, juices, citrus fruits, and popsicles) can attack tooth enamel, gradually exposing the layer of dentin underneath. When enamel starts to wear away, your child’s teeth may appear gray or yellow in color. In addition to damaging tooth enamel, foods and drinks high in sugar can increase the risk of your child developing cavities. If your child has tooth decay, you might see dark spots on their teeth. While it’s best to have your child eat a diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables and as little processed foods as possible, we know that can be challenging. So, the higher the percentage of unprocessed foods the better.

Overconsumption of Fluoride

When received in adequate amounts, fluoride is a necessary mineral that can strengthen your child’s tooth enamel and prevent tooth decay. Fluoride is found in drinking water, toothpaste, and is also in many foods and drinks.

Problems can occur when children receive more fluoride than they need, especially while their teeth are still developing. This can result in a condition called fluorosis, which can happen if a child swallows too much toothpaste containing fluoride or if baby formula is prepared using fluoridated water. A child with fluorosis might have streaks, lines, or brown spots on their teeth.

Illnesses or Medical Conditions

Children born with hyperbilirubinemia typically have teeth that are yellow or green in color. Hyperbilirubinemia occurs when the levels of bilirubin in the blood are excessively high. Jaundice can also cause stained teeth in children, but this occurs rarely in children.

Weakened Tooth Enamel

Enamel is the hard layer that covers our teeth, and it also gives teeth their natural white color. Thin or weakened tooth enamel may have a genetic basis, and it can result in teeth that are yellowed or discolored due to the exposed layer of dentin.

Tooth Injury

When a tooth injury occurs, it’s possible for the blood vessels deep within the tooth to break. If your child suffers a tooth injury, the affected tooth might be brown, black, yellow, gray, or brown in color. A clear indication of a tooth injury in children is having a tooth that’s much darker in color when compared to the surrounding teeth.

Taking Certain Medications

Certain medications or supplements can also cause tooth discoloration in children. Vitamin supplements or prescriptions containing iron can contribute to the formation of dark stains, as can certain antibiotics and antihistamines, which can cause gray or yellow stains to form. Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers who take tetracycline, a type of antibiotic, increase their child’s chances of developing stained baby teeth.

What You Can Do About Your Child’s Discolored Teeth

You should schedule an appointment with your child’s pediatric dentist at the first signs of tooth stains. During the appointment, the dentist will examine your child’s teeth and determine if there are any serious or chronic diseases that are causing the stains to occur.

Whitening treatments, whether purchased over-the-counter or received in a dentist’s office, are not recommended for children. Whitening treatments are usually considered once your child is a teenager and all of their permanent teeth have fully developed.

Dental veneers are occasionally considered for children and teens who have deep tooth stains that don’t show any signs of improvement from any other whitening treatments, such as dark stains from taking antibiotics. Veneers are thin shells that cover the teeth, and since they require a diligent oral care regimen, they’re usually not a good treatment option for children.

Tips For Preventing Tooth Stains

Follow these tips to care for your child’s teeth at home and prevent stains from developing:

Encourage Good Oral Hygiene at Home

Brushing and flossing every day is one of the most effective ways to prevent tooth stains, and it can also remove light tooth stains over time. Encourage your child to brush twice a day for at least two minutes each session and floss their teeth at least once a day. Getting your child in the habit of brushing and flossing at an early age makes it more likely for them to engage in this healthy practice throughout their lives.

You can also encourage children to brush their teeth shortly after eating, especially after they’ve eaten anything that high in sugar or has a lot of acidity. Brushing or rinsing their mouth with water after eating can help your child lower their risk of tooth decay and prevent enamel erosion.

Prioritize a Healthy Diet

Encourage your child to focus on eating vegetables and fruits that have a hard, crunchy texture. This includes carrots, apples, pears, and celery, which help to clean the surface of teeth while eating.

Foods and drinks high in sugar or those with high acidity levels should be eaten sparingly since they can contribute to tooth staining and enamel erosion. Candy, juices, soda, and dried fruits should be consumed in moderation.

Our dentists can help you determine the cause of your child’s discolored teeth, and we’ll take the time to carefully explain the available treatment options.

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(703) 997-0928