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Why Are My Baby’s Teeth Stained?

Posted on December 27th, 2023

Des Moines dentist, Dr. Chad Johnson of Veranda Dentistry, discusses discoloration of kids’ teeth, potential causes, and possible treatments.As brand-new humans, it seems logical that babies and children would have gleaming white teeth to go along with their bright eyes and soft skin. Baby teeth—also called primary teeth—generally do appear whiter than adult permanent teeth because they are more calcified. However,  it is not uncommon for a child’s teeth to appear less than luminous for any number of reasons. Your Des Moines dental team at Veranda Dentistry would like to share some causes and possible solutions for yellow, brown, and black stains on kids’ teeth.

What Causes Stained Baby Teeth?

  • Poor Oral Hygiene – If baby teeth aren’t brushed and flossed thoroughly, bacteria may form and become plaque, which hardens into tartar and can lead to discoloration. Practice thorough oral hygiene for the healthiest, whitest smile.
  • Medication – If babies are given nutritional supplements containing iron, their teeth can become dark and discolored. If their mothers take tetracycline while pregnant or breastfeeding, babies can develop black stains on their teeth.
  • Injury – A single blackened tooth can be the result of dental trauma that caused bleeding inside the tooth.
  • Weak Enamel – Inadequate enamel formation can be hereditary and lead to baby teeth that appear a dull gray color.
  • Excessive Fluoride Fluorosis is a condition caused by the consumption of too much fluoride when teeth are forming but prior to appearance in the mouth, which takes place before kids are eight years old. To avoid fluorosis, keep an eye on your child’s oral hygiene habits and remind them not to swallow toothpaste or mouthwash. Fluorosis can also be caused by mixing infant formula powder or liquid with fluoridated water if these types of formula are your baby’s main food source. Fluorosis can range in severity from mild, barely visible markings to pitting and black or brown spots in more severe cases.
  • Illness – Some kids’ baby teeth develop with a greenish or yellowish tint if they are born with a condition called hyperbilirubinemia, which means there is too much bilirubin in the blood.
  • Foods & Beverages – This list of staining culprits wouldn’t be complete without some common staining foods and beverages. Thankfully (hopefully), kids don’t need to worry much about tea, coffee, or red wine, which are some of the biggest factors for adults, but any dark-colored foods and drinks like berries or fruit juice will stain their teeth. Even light-colored foods like apples and potatoes go through a process of oxidation that can cause teeth staining. Who knew!?

How Can Stained Baby Teeth Be Prevented or Treated?

If discoloration is caused by poor dental hygiene, brushing more thoroughly should help. Until your child learns to spit at around age three, don’t use more than a rice-sized smear of fluoride toothpaste on their toothbrush.

To decrease bad bacteria in your child’s mouth, avoid putting soft drinks, juice, formula, or other sugary concoctions in their bottle—only allow them a bottle filled with water. If your child uses a pacifier, never dip it in sugar or honey, and try to avoid sharing utensils with your child as this can transfer bacteria from your mouth to theirs (and vice versa!) and increase the likelihood of cavity formation.

Depending on your child’s unique dental situation, Veranda Dentistry may watch their teeth for signs of other problems or recommend future procedures like teeth whitening or bonding. Some kids are more sensitive to stained teeth than others due to their natural oral pH level.

If you are concerned about stains on your child’s teeth, contact your Des Moines dentist at Veranda Dentistry today. We’d love to help!

The content of this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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