The Tint Of Your Toddler's Teeth: Dental Disoloration In Infants

It's fairly common for adult teeth to become discolored over time. Many causes for this discoloration are dietary in nature, with certain adult habits being worse offenders than others (such as red wine, coffee, or even tobacco). In any event, the fact that some adults have discolored teeth shouldn't come as a shock. But what about your toddler? Why are their teeth discolored? After all, it's not like they've had their teeth long enough for them to become stained.

Plaque and Tartar

It's best to start with the most obvious cause of your toddler's dental discoloration. Are their teeth being cleaned properly? The accumulation of plaque (which becomes tartar as it hardens) can present itself as a yellowish film on teeth. Some parents may be too gentle in cleaning their toddler's teeth—being concerned that being too vigorous will damage their child's teeth or gums. Be sure to ask your child's pediatric dentist the best way to comprehensively clean your toddler's teeth, using the right amount of pressure—enough to remove plaque, but not enough to cause damage. 

Bruised Dental Pulp

If it's a single tooth (or a series of neighboring teeth) that are discolored, you may be looking at the aftereffects of an accident—your child may have fallen or received a blow to the mouth which bruised their dental pulp (the nerve inside each tooth). This bruised pulp can leave remnants of blood on the interior of each tooth, causing dark discoloration. This must be reported to your child's dentist. The teeth may require internal bleaching or other attention to return them to their proper shade. The stability of teeth should also be assessed after any accident.

Naturally Thin Dental Enamel

You and your partner may need to consider your own medical histories. Did either of you have naturally thin dental enamel as children? This is a naturally-occurring condition that can be hereditary. Dentin makes up the bulk of a tooth's structure, and this dentin is safely encased in dental enamel. A person's dentin tends to be yellow, and when the enamel is relatively thin, dentin can be partially visible. This is rarely a serious issue, but requires ongoing monitoring, as teeth may be slightly more susceptible to cavities. When your child has their full set of adult teeth, their dentist may suggest porcelain dental crowns if it's thought that the teeth need extra reinforcement. 

Fortunately, a few of the causes for dental discoloration in infants are clinically significant, and while your toddler's teeth should be assessed at your local pediatric dental clinic, it's probable that the solution will be simple enough. 

Contact a local pediatric dental clinic to learn more.