Why Do My Baby’s Teeth Look Discolored?

6 min read

With such a huge number of diapers to change, non-stop feeding schedules, tantrums, and minimal rest, your newborn child’s dental well being may not be top of greatest concern even after those first infant teeth show up. But once you notice some stain and Baby’s teeth look discolored, you will search the internet for the causes and remedies or will be eager to carry out your child’s first dental appointment with a pediatric dentist.
Tooth discoloration in toddler
What Is Implied By Tooth Discoloration?
When Do It Look Discolored Appear?
What Are The Causes Of Tooth Discoloration In Toddlers?
How Is It In Toddlers Treated?
How Can In Toddlers Be Prevented?

What Is Implied By Tooth Discoloration?

Baby’s teeth look discolored and are said to happen if the color and appearance of the primary teeth change from that of the normal typical ‘off-white’ or ivory color.
Baby’s teeth look discolored is classified into two types-

1. External tooth discoloration:

External discoloration is caused when food, medication, or beverages gets absorbed into the tooth film (protein film that forms on the surface of the enamel of the teeth). This can be removed through some simple procedures

2. Internal tooth discoloration:

Internal tooth discoloration can occur either directly or indirectly due to several internal factors that affect the health of the child. Dentine defects, enamel hypoplasia (incomplete development of enamel), metabolic disorders, systemic syndrome, etc. Removal of the stains caused by the internal factors is not easy to remove

When Do It Look Discolored Appear?

There is no particular age bar for the appearance of stains or white or gray spots or white streaks on a child’s teeth. Even the first emerging teeth can show these issues. That is why it is imperative to follow a strict dental care routine since early childhood.

What Are The Causes Of Tooth Discoloration In Toddlers?

Baby’s teeth look discolored can be caused by several reasons:

1. Insufficient brushing of teeth:

Not brushing the toddler’s teeth properly manner results in plaque formation. Plaque gets formed as a result of bacterial action on food debris, which can lead to teeth discoloration. Read more on how to brush your toddler’s teeth here

2. Dental caries:

Dental caries means tooth decay. Caused due to the activity of bacteria on the food debris (as a result of improper brushing). The baby’s teeth look discolored ranges from yellow to black

3. Enamel hypoplasia:

This is a genetic condition in which the enamel coating is either thinner than normal or is missing in the teeth. This is not uniform in occurrence, and the coating is either optimum or thin in some but areas. Enamel deformities can show up on the child’s teeth as hollowed, harsh surfaces or with white, yellow, or brownish discoloration on affected teeth. Thus, a child with a weak enamel may end up with discolored teeth

4. Fluorosis:

Developing white patches or streaks on the teeth can be the sign of fluorosis. Fluorosis is caused when there is too much fluoride in the child’s mouth either due to:

    • The water used to mix the child’s formula contains excessive fluoride (or)
    • The toddler’s toothpaste which immoderate fluoride

5. Injury:

Trauma that could have happened to the baby’s teeth or gums due to a fall or a blow during an accident (even before the teeth emerge out) can cause discoloration. The discoloration happens as the blood vessels inside the pulp chamber breaks, and the blood gets absorbed by the dental tubule, which goes to the enamel. As the enamel is semi-transparent, the stain of blood is reflected through the enamel. Often the injury gives a pink or gray tinge to the baby’s teeth

6. Chronic illness:

Recurrent high fever, newborn hepatitis, some type of heart disease can result in tooth discoloration

7. Use of medicines:

Usage of tetracycline (an antibiotic used in treating bacterial infections such as urinary tract infection) by the mother during pregnancy can cause discoloration of the baby’s teeth. Many medications or multivitamin supplements containing iron can cause dark stains on the child’s teeth

8. Jaundice:

A baby who gets infected with jaundice after birth might develop tinted teeth more often with a greenish tinge
Baby's Teeth Look Discolored

How Is Tooth Discoloration In Toddlers Treated?

Treatment of the baby’s teeth look discolored relies on the reasons behind the issue. If the reason is due to external factors like food debris and beverages, the normal teeth color can be regained by:

  • Brushing the toddler’s teeth with an adult toothbrush and little adult toothpaste. Adults’ paste and brush possess more scrubbing power than that of children’s’ brush and paste. However, remember to brush softly as hard brushing can damage their gum and enamel
  • A bit of baking soda and water can also be used to brush the teeth. If even after these tricks the stain stays, never hesitate to fix an appointment with the pediatric dentist. He will remove the stain through professional scrubbing. Remember, the accumulation of stain and plaque can develop tooth decay
  • Keeping your eyes open to the chances of the dark stain that may cause on the teeth of the toddler by the iron supplement and brush the teeth thoroughly can help to restrict this stain to take root. If this stain sets up, it can be very hard to remove
  • Stain due to trauma, more often, cannot be removed. But your child should be examined by a doctor as he will be able to protect the color of the adult teeth which takes the place of the milk teeth
  • Bleaching technique: Certain bleaching methods are used by the pediatric dentists to remove the stubborn stains
    • In-office bleaching: It is the professional whitening treatment which is given by the dentist using
    • Overnight vital bleaching: It is usually used to regain the color of the tetracycline discolored teeth
  • Pumice mixture is used by dentists to remove the stain and bacteria from the teeth of the toddler. The important thing to remember is that the pumice powder used by the dentists are exclusively formulated to use on the teeth. It is far different from the pumice stone that you get from the supermarket. So never attempt to use it to clean the teeth

How Can Tooth Discoloration In Toddlers Be Prevented?

Baby’s teeth look discolored that occurs due to internal factors that cannot be prevented, but can be treated, and the normal color of the teeth can be regained. On the other hand discoloration of the teeth due to the external factors can be prevented if you follow the following steps:

  1. Cleaning the baby’s teeth: Right away when the first baby’s teeth look discolored appears, you can start the cleaning procedure. To begin with, clean the baby’s teeth with a clean and soft cloth. Clean at least once in a day, preferably immediately before the good night’s sleep. More on infant dental hygiene here
  2. Don’t let your baby go to bed with a milk bottle: Putting a baby to bed with a milk bottle is not at all preferred (both during day or night during nap time). The sugary milk pools around the baby’s teeth while he is sleeping and will become home for the bacteria which produces acids leading to tooth decay or discoloration
  3. Feed healthy food: Feeding healthy food that is low in sugar will prevent both tooth decay and tooth discoloration. Make sure he is taking daily required calcium and vitamin D
  4. Low fluoride toothpaste: Choose a toothpaste with low fluoride content to brush your toddler’s teeth. Toothpaste containing 1000 ppm (parts per million) of fluoride is considered as low fluoride toothpaste
  5. Teach the baby to spit: Teach your baby to spit as then he will be able to spit the toothpaste out as well as can rinse the mouth with water, thus, avoiding the toothpaste to be in contact with the teeth for a long time, which may cause discoloration. And always remember to keep the toothpaste out of the reach of the baby as they have a tendency to eat it

Just because that your little baby’s teeth are going to drop out doesn’t mean you can overlook your toddler’s oral issues. While some of the factors that lead to baby’s teeth look discolored can be an indication of underlying health problems that need medical attention, some other reasons like poor dental hygiene should be corrected as soon as possible. This is so as habits that kids learn, especially concerning personal hygiene, will stay with them throughout their life. If ignored, the issues with teeth can bring about lifelong consequences.

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