Dental Health Topics

Gray Spots on Your Child's Teeth?

With all you have to worry about during your child’s early years, you wouldn’t think tooth discoloration would be one of them. After all, their teeth are new and haven’t had time to be stained by years of coffee drinking!

Well, tooth discoloration in baby teeth is more common than you think. If you take a close look at your little’s chompers, and find they’re not all toothpaste-commercial-ready, here’s what you need to know.

Reasons your child’s teeth may be discolored

  1. Too much iron. Iron-rich water or iron supplements (including fortified rice cereals) can cause a gray or black stain to appear on your child’s teeth. This staining is not harmful to teeth, and is easily brushed away by a parent’s help during teeth brushing time, or by your dentist at your child’s next visit.
  2. Trauma. If a tooth is entirely dark or gray, it may be due to an injury. When tooth trauma happens, there may be bleeding inside the tooth that causes intrinsic staining. This cannot be removed by brushing. You will want to monitor any changes in the tooth or gums. In any event of an injury involving teeth, it is best to have your dentist take a look.
  3. Fluorosis. Faint white streaks or spots can be an indication of fluorosis, a condition caused by too much fluoride. Fluorosis is typically a cosmetic concern only, though you’ll want to have your dentist confirm that this is what you’re seeing. You’ll also want to make sure, if you’re using fluoride supplements, that you’re giving the proper dose. Ask your dentist or pediatrician about their recommendation.
  4. Inadequate brushing. You’re not alone if your family struggles with this twice daily ritual. While it’s a great idea to foster independence in daily hygiene habits, your little one might need your help to brush each tooth adequately, and for long enough. Be sure to use the recommended amount of toothpaste per the age of your child. Here are some tips for proper teeth brushing and some fun dental apps that can make the process more fun.
  5. Tooth decay. If you see white, chalky spots on your child’s teeth, this may be an indication that tooth decay has begun. If left untreated, these spots will turn yellow or brown. Never ignore signs of tooth decay.

When to see your dentist

Any time a stain can’t easily be brushed away, it’s best to make a call to your dental office. They might want to take a look in person, and will let you know whether you should come in earlier than your next scheduled visit.

While baby teeth are temporary, there can be long-term effects of ignoring dental problems. Keep up regular dental visits, starting after your child’s first tooth has erupted, and always push good hygiene habits.