You may notice at times, your child’s teeth appear yellow. Several factors can cause yellow teeth, each of which plays an essential role in your child’s oral health. Monitoring your child’s oral hygiene, teaching them proper at-home oral care, and bringing them in for regular dental exams are just a few key ways to care for their teeth.
Understanding the distinct causes of yellow teeth can leave you well equipped to make informed decisions about your child’s dental care.
Causes of Yellow Teeth
Each cause requires unique treatments and care recommendations. The most effective rule of thumb to remember is if you notice your child’s teeth are yellow, you should bring them in for a visit so we can determine the root cause and create a custom treatment plan for them.
Plaque & Tartar
Bacteria can form and multiply on the tooth surface when a child consumes lots of sugary foods and drinks and doesn’t practice proper at-home dental care. Dental plaque is an adhesive film of this bacteria that appears yellow. Over time, plaque can multiply, harden, and become tartar. Tartar is significantly more challenging to remove than plaque.
Tartar build-up on the tooth surface can slowly decay the enamel—the hard outer layer of the tooth that typically appears white. Enamel decay can lead to cavities and gum disease, significantly impacting your child’s oral and overall health. It can also expose more of the inner tooth layer called dentin, which is yellow.
Children spend much of their time learning and playing through physical activity. Sometimes, they can bump their teeth when they’re in the middle of play. In many cases, the child’s teeth will heal on their own. However, in others, trauma can lead to more severe damage.
Tooth damage can crack the hard outer enamel and expose the inner dentin layer. This exposure in and of itself can lead to yellow teeth; however, it can also have other impacts. The internal blood vessels can die if left exposed and eventually discolour into yellow, brown, or grey.
Diet & Nutrition
In many cases, stains caused by food can fade into a yellowish colour. Some foods can decay tooth enamel, further yellowing the teeth. Acidic foods like citrus fruits are often the culprit behind tooth decay caused by diet since they contain excess sugar and acidity.
Some examples of food and drink that can stain teeth and lead to discolouration include:
Baby bottle syndrome can occur when an infant uses a baby bottle as a sleep aid. The sugars in the milk or juice filling the bottle can spend all night in your child’s mouth, meaning bacteria can accumulate easily and tooth decay can occur. You should monitor sugar exposure from a young age to protect your child’s teeth.
Some medications can also cause tooth discolouration. Tetracycline is an antibiotic used to treat bacterial infections. Some discolouration can occur in children whose mothers used the antibiotic during pregnancy or in children prescribed tetracycline before age 8.
Some children are born with thin enamel, which may cause teeth to look yellow. Thin enamel also increases your child’s risk of tooth decay, which means monitoring their nutrition is even more crucial to protecting their oral health.
Preventing Yellow Teeth
Preventing yellow teeth starts with educating your child on proper dental care. During their appointment with their dentist every 6 months, they should be taught how foods affect their teeth and cause decay.
It’s also essential to provide your child with proper education on oral hygiene, such as brushing their teeth and using the right kind of toothpaste. We recommend:
- Creating fun games to ensure your child brushes for at least 2 minutes
- Use a kid-friendly toothpaste that still contains fluoride as an ingredient
- Brush your teeth together so your child can see the example you set
- Consider getting an electric toothbrush to help your child brush more efficiently
Keeping Your Child Smiling
For kids, the most effective way to prevent and treat yellow teeth is by practicing good oral hygiene at home. Regular check ups and cleanings every 6 months help us stay on top of any plaque and tartar buildup to keep your child smiling brightly. Visit the team at Cooper Dental in downtown Calgary or Cougar Ridge.