There is nothing like seeing a smile on your child’s face. But you may have noticed that your child’s teeth are looking a little yellow lately. Don’t worry – there could be several reasons for this.
Everything from poor dental hygiene to genetics can be to blame. And depending on the cause, there are different ways you can lighten things up.
Learn more about why your child’s teeth may be discolored, what to do at home, and when to speak to your child’s dentist.
Did you know that? Baby teeth are whiter than adult teeth? This is true.
As your child grows, they will lose their teeth and adult teeth grow in. When this happens you may see a noticeable difference between the colors. This is because adult teeth contain more dentin, which makes a tooth look slightly yellow under translucent enamel.
Once all of your child’s adult teeth are in, you may not notice this shade as much.
If you don’t brush enough, it can cause a buildup of plaque on the tooth surface so that it looks yellow.
Not only that, but eating and drinking can stain teeth too. If these substances are not properly brushed away day in and day out, they can lead to buildup and stains.
If you suspect your child may have these problems, contact your dentist for treatment as soon as possible to prevent infection of the tooth.
When your child injures their teeth, blood vessels can break and make the teeth appear yellow, brown, or gray or black.
After trauma, the capillaries in the teeth can burst and cause blood – more precisely, Hemosiderin – collect in the canals within the teeth. Injuries can even affect the enamel itself.
Tooth enamel covers the tooth and gives it its white color. Thin enamel, which can be genetic, can cause teeth to look yellow or discolored. Thin enamel can also put your child at risk of tooth decay and other problems.
In very young children, fluorosis can be a problem. This condition occurs when milk teeth are exposed to too much fluoride from water, toothpaste, or fortified foods.
Fluorosis can lead to white or white brown spots on the teeth so that the surrounding tooth enamel looks yellow.
Other supplements can also stain teeth. For example, iron can cause teeth to turn gray or black.
Hepatitis, jaundice, and other conditions can also stain teeth.
This also applies to the use of certain medications during pregnancy or in early childhood. For example, tetracycline can make a young child’s teeth look pale yellow and the teeth of older children look brown.
There are a few ways you can try to brighten your child’s smile at home. These methods mainly work in cases where the teeth are discolored due to:
- bad cleaning habits
- other external causes of discoloration on the tooth surface
Good oral hygiene
First things first, make sure your child uses brushes and floss twice a day.
If they have eaten something sugary or sour, try to get them brushing within 30 minutes to an hour to further protect tooth enamel.
If you are taking supplements like iron, brush well and rinse well after using them. Children should use a small amount of toothpaste and rinse well to avoid fluorosis.
Consistent brushing and flossing keep your teeth free of plaque and substances that can cause stains. In addition, light stains will slowly turn white over time. You may need to help younger children develop good cleaning habits.
Lemon and baking powder
If food and drink stains or plaque on the tooth surface, you can try making a paste from a few drops of lemon juice and baking soda.
Simply combine the two ingredients once a week and let your child brush their teeth with them. Leave on for 1 to 2 minutes before brushing again and then rinse well.
Note, however, that while this method is relatively safe, lemon juice is acidic and can damage tooth enamel if used too often.
Encourage your child to eat hard fruits and vegetables – think apples, carrots, celery, and pears. Not only are these foods healthy, but they can also help Clean the tooth surface when chewed.
Basically, the harsh exterior of these foods can scrub your teeth and act as a secondary brushing. Some fruits (such as apples) contain malic acid, which can be found in various over-the-counter (OTC) whitening kits.
While you’re at it, limit things like sugary drinks and acidic foods. Foods like sour candy, soda, citrus fruits, potato chips, and dried fruits can damage tooth enamel and discolor teeth.
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OTC whitening products for older children
You can also find help with stains on the tooth surface at your local pharmacy. OTC tooth bleaching kits, whitening toothpastes, and other methods are becoming increasingly popular.
However, do consider your child’s teeth before throwing a box in your shopping cart.
Pediatric dentists do not all agree that OTC kits are good choices for children. Those who say it’s okay recommend waiting until your child has all of the adult teeth.
Side effects of using OTC kits may include Tooth sensitivity and gum irritation.
If home methods and regular brushing don’t work, you can speak to your child’s dentist.
You should also speak to the dentist about stains that are due to intrinsic problems – that is, discoloration coming from inside the tooth – or about possible cavities.
Your child’s dentist can bleach stains near the surface of the tooth enamel using an etching, bleaching, and sealing technique. It involves applying a solution of sodium hypochlorite to the bleach and then a resin to hide future stains in tooth enamel.
Many dentists recommend waiting until your child is a teenager to have their teeth professionally whitened, although your dentist may have different guidelines.
Some children as young as 4 years old have had their teeth whitened, however Researcher Share that it is rare for a child under the age of 6 to be considered a good candidate.
According to a Case report 2015Studies have shown that this approach can be a quick and safe option for older children and adolescents with spots due to fluorosis.
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Microabrasion with bleach
Microabrasion with bleach is similar to standard bleach, but it has a slightly harder effect on the teeth. It is also more effective on surface stains than on tooth stains. In this process, your dentist uses chemicals to lighten any discolored areas on your teeth.
In particular, this method works best on dark spots, brown spots, and white spots or discoloration. Most stains can be removed in a single visit. If not, your child’s dentist may recommend other options to cover the tooth on your own.
Additional cosmetic dentistry
If teeth are stained from the surface (e.g. due to tetracycline) or not responding to bleaching, your dentist may suggest using veneers or bondings to cover the tooth.
In the case of porcelain veneers, an enamel layer is removed before the veneers are laid to allow a tight fit.
Veneers require continuous maintenance. Because of this, they may not be the best choice for children. Talk to your dentist to find out if veneers are right for your child.
In tooth bonding, resin is applied to the surface of the tooth (almost like nail polish). Once hard, it is polished and shaped to look like a normal tooth.
Along with the cover-up of discoloration, connection can be used to cover damaged teeth – and dentists stick to children for this reason.
Bonding works best on teeth that don’t bear the brunt of the load when eating or biting. Therefore, it is a good choice for front teeth. As with veneers, the bond does not last indefinitely.
Again, some types of tooth discoloration may not respond well to home or even professional care. This includes discoloration due to causes such as:
- certain diseases
- Exposure to certain drugs such as tetracycline
In this case, the color of the tooth is influenced from the inside – so it’s not just about brushing better or bleaching the surface of the tooth.
Regularly brushing and flossing your teeth is the best way to prevent stains and plaque from building up on the surface of your teeth. You can promote good dental hygiene by:
- Model good habits yourself. Make brushing and flossing a family affair – twice a day.
- Set a timer to make sure your child brushes long enough. Some toothbrushes may have special features that do this for you. Otherwise, the magic number you want to hit is 2 minutes. As you can imagine, you may need to help your child achieve this goal.
- Eat a diet that is high in fresh fruits and vegetables. Starches and sugars can be bad for tooth enamel. So if you eat foods that are not particularly tooth-friendly, encourage your little one to brush afterwards.
- Reward good habits. Consider one Sticker diagram to say hello to progress in cleaning or even to win a small prize. Other children may be motivated to choose toothbrushes or toothpaste that contain their favorite characters.
Talk to older children and teenagers about their insecurities with their teeth. If they say bleaching would help them feel more confident, make an appointment with your dentist or ask if home bleaching is safe for your child’s teeth.
Whether it’s yellow or white teeth, milk teeth, or adult teeth, keep up to date with your child’s dental checkups.
Twice a year, it is recommended to keep tartar at bay and to monitor and treat other problems such as cavities.