How many things in life are as cute as a baby’s first tooth? As that small tooth pushes its way through the gums, parents are overjoyed (the baby, on the other hand, isn’t so much!). One by one over the next couple of years, the remainder of the primary teeth, also called the baby teeth, will rise up through the gums to fill the mouth with a beautiful, toothy smile.
However, as children begin to get older, parents may notice that their child’s baby teeth seem a bit discolored. This can be a cause for alarm. Although adults are familiar with the fact that the permanent teeth of grownups can discolor, many parents are surprised to know those baby teeth can also yellow or even turn brown or gray.
If this has happened to your child, you should be concerned. However, don’t panic! By learning more about the issues that cause discolored baby teeth and how to prevent them, you can quickly take your child’s oral health back into your own hands.
The experts at Toothfairy Pediatric Dental help children with discolored baby teeth on a regular basis. Take a moment to learn the facts about primary tooth discoloration and consider the advice they regularly pass on to patients and parents.
The Reasons for Discolored Baby Teeth
The first thing to remember when you see the signs of yellow or brown baby teeth is that it’s not as unusual as you may think. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t take it seriously but understand your child is not alone. It should be noted that adult teeth are covered with a thicker layer of enamel than baby teeth. With a thinner layer of protection, baby teeth discoloration is common.
If you’re wondering why your child has discolored baby teeth, there are several possibilities, including:
- Medications: There are several types of medications which, over time, can cause teeth to become stained. Most liquid and chewable children’s medications are loaded with dye and sugar, which can cause discoloration over long-term use. Also, medicines and vitamins containing larger doses of iron are especially notorious for their teeth-staining properties.
Additionally, the Mayo Clinic has reported that the antibiotic class of tetracyclines should be avoided in children up to eight years of age because of their teeth-staining properties. Nursing mothers should note that if they take tetracyclines, the same issues can occur in the teeth of the children they are feeding.
- Bruising: Have you ever thought about a tooth bruising? It’s rare, but it can happen, just as sure as your child can bruise their knee. When a child suffers a blow to the mouth (from falling or rough-housing with a sibling) bruising can occur around the gumline. The increased blood flow to the gums can then be drawn through tiny blood vessels in the tooth pulp into the enamel, causing brown discolored baby teeth. The good news is that this type of discoloration is temporary and should subside within a few weeks as the bruise heals.
- Chromogenic bacteria: This type of staining can be found in both children and adults. Although the exact cause of this bacteria is unknown, the black staining that results from the bacteria can only be treated by a dentist. If you find brownish to black discoloration that doesn’t improve over time, contact your dentist to assess your options.
The Need to Reinforce Good Dental Care
Although some of the reasons for discolored baby teeth are out of your child’s control, there are some instances where baby teeth turn yellow because of a kid’s poor dental habits. No doubt, you’ve taught your child the proper way to care for their teeth and gums, but kids will be kids. Without proper supervision and reinforcement, children can cut corners with their tooth brushing habits. If you notice your child’s baby teeth beginning to discolor, remind them of the following steps they need to follow to take care of their teeth:
- Brushing for two minutes: Sometimes, a child brushes for 20 seconds and tells you that they’re done! Unfortunately, that’s not nearly enough time to keep baby teeth from turning yellow over time. Remind them that each time they brush their teeth, they should be vigorously brushing for two minutes. Using a timer may help keep your child on pace.
- Brushing twice a day: To keep primary tooth discoloration at bay, make sure that your child brushes in the morning and the evening. Brushing in the evening is especially important so that teeth are clean before going to bed, helping reduce plaque buildup.
- Replacing old brushes: Many parents forget to check their children’s toothbrushes on a regular basis. The American Dental Association recommends replacing toothbrushes every three to four months or sooner if they begin to fray. If your child is using an old toothbrush, they cannot clean their teeth effectively.
- Reducing sugary snacks and drinks: The more your child consumes sugary snacks, sodas, and juices, the more at risk they are for discolored baby teeth. Monitor your child’s intake of snacks and water-down juice for young children.
Reversing the Trend of Discolored Teeth
If your child shows the signs of discolored baby teeth, the best thing you can do for them is to get them to see their pediatric dentist. Your dentist will give their teeth and gums a full evaluation and let you know what type of options you have going forward. Don’t feel like a bad parent if your child has yellow baby teeth! Your dentist wants to help you find the reasons behind the discoloration, and they will put together a plan to reverse the process.
If you live in Reno or the surrounding area, the best thing you can do for your child’s precious smile is to bring them to one of the five offices of Toothfairy Pediatric Dental. Dr. Salar and our team will do everything we can to make your child feel comfortable. Our office accepts most forms of dental insurance, including Medicaid. Contact us today to see how we can make your child’s pearly whites shine again!