Your little one's teeth aren't exempt from the stains or spots that adults experience and the discovery of discolored baby teeth can unnerve a new parent. But spots on your kiddo's smile shouldn't necessarily put you into panic mode.
If your tot's teeth are less than pearly white, read on for more information on this common condition and how you can help your child build healthy oral care habits.
What Causes Discolored Baby Teeth?
Even though some of the worst oral offenders and stain makers are for adults—such as coffee and red wine—it's possible to see infant or toddler teeth discolored by other foods or beverages. For example, dark fruits or fruit juices, such as cranberry or blueberry, as well as bright, artificial dyes can discolor your tot's teeth over time.
While one sip of blueberry juice or a single cherry red ice pop won't cause an immediate problem, daily doses of sippy cups filled with deep-colored drinks or overuse of artificially dyed foods can result in discoloration.
According to the Mayo Clinic, other common causes of discolored baby teeth include:
- inadequate brushing
- certain types of medication
- excessive fluoride use
- weak enamel
You might be thinking, "Injury? How would that lead to discoloration?" Well, if your teetering toddler topples over and gets hit in the mouth by their big sibling's kickball, the coffee table, or a different hard object, the resulting blow can cause a traumatized tooth to bleed internally, leading to discoloration.
Not only that, but according to the Cleveland Clinic, physical dental damage can also disrupt enamel formation in children under age eight. Enamel is the outer pearly layer of our teeth, and it plays a vital role in protecting each tooth from chewing, biting, crunching, and grinding. Enamel also insulates teeth from potentially painful temperatures. So, you want to make sure your tot's enamel is developing correctly!
If your child has an obvious or suspected oral injury, contact your dentist ASAP. A pediatric dentist will need to examine your child's teeth to assess the damage. Trauma-based discoloration won't wipe away with extra oral care. Instead, your child's tooth will need time to heal or may require in-office treatment.
How Does Oral Care Affect Discoloration?
Okay, so your child didn't injure their tooth, but you still notice discoloration. What gives? Well, poor or inconsistent oral care could be the issue, as plaque and other dental decay can lead to discoloration. And dental decay affects almost one in every five children under five years of age, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry's State of Little Teeth report.
To help your child avoid joining this statistic, you may need to take the lead on their oral hygiene until they can properly brush and maintain their own smile. Begin an oral care routine as soon as their first tooth erupts. The American Dental Association recommends using a smear of fluoride toothpaste the size of a grain of rice on a child-sized brush. Gently brush your child's teeth (or tooth) for two minutes twice daily.
When they're old enough to hold their own toothbrush, make brushing time fun! Play a two-minute-long song and have a boogie, set a timer, or use your phone as a countdown clock to help them brush for just the right amount of time.
Also, make sure to schedule regular dental check-ups as soon as your child's first tooth breaks through. It's not too early! The dentist will examine your child's teeth, check their bite, provide a professional cleaning, and address any concerns you may have—including discoloration.
Are you looking for new, natural ways to help your child with their smile? Check out @toms_of_maine Naturally Good Products Pinterest board for inspiration!
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Why It's Good
If you're worried about discolored baby teeth, you don't need to stress. Learning more about common causes and what you can do to combat this oral care issue can help you feel prepared and ready to tackle this issue.