Why Are My Kid’s Teeth Yellow? Understanding Potential Causes of Discoloration

Have you noticed that your child’s teeth are looking a bit more yellow than you think they should? There are a few different reasons why your child’s teeth may look yellow or discolored. The team at We Care Dental Care is always happy to answer any questions you may have about your child’s dental health. 

1. Their Permanent Teeth Are Starting to Erupt

If your child is old enough to start getting their permanent teeth (usually age 6-7), you may notice that these teeth look a bit more yellow compared to their baby teeth. Don’t worry. This is normal.

There are a few reasons that permanent teeth may look yellow. First, they have more dentin (the yellowish second layer of the tooth) compared to baby teeth. The nerve canal is also larger when the tooth first erupts, and the enamel of the permanent teeth is more naturally transparent when they first emerge and replace the baby teeth. 

Combined, these factors can make it look like your child’s tooth is yellow or stained. But don’t worry. Over time, the enamel will harden and calcify, and as your child’s remaining baby teeth fall out and are replaced, their smile will become a consistent white color. 

2. Plaque & Tartar Are Building up Due to Inadequate Brushing

If your child’s teeth are not being brushed at least twice a day for 2+ minutes, bacteria-filled plaque and tartar (hardened and calcified plaque) can form on their teeth. Plaque can attract stains from foods and beverages, and tartar has a yellowish-brown color that may also discolor the teeth.

If you believe your child’s teeth may have excessive plaque and tartar buildup, they may have a higher risk of cavities. You need to see Dr. Benjamin Burkitt to have your child’s teeth cleaned and to learn more about how proper at-home oral care can prevent the buildup of plaque and bacteria. 

3. Their Teeth May Have Thin Enamel

A number of genetic factors can affect the formation of your child’s tooth enamel. If your child’s enamel is thinner or weaker than normal, their teeth may look yellow. This is because enamel is whitish in color, while the layer of dentin underneath the enamel looks much more yellow.

If the enamel is thin, the yellow dentin below it can show through more clearly, which will make your child’s teeth appear discolored. If you believe this to be the cause of your child’s stained teeth, you should see Dr. Burkitt right away. Children with weak enamel will require special care and attention to keep their teeth healthy and free of cavities and other complications. 

4. Their Teeth May Have Been Stained by Antibiotics Like Tetracycline 

This is very rare in the developed world, but it’s still worth discussing. Tetracycline and similar antibiotics were first used to fight bacterial infections in the 1950s. Since then, it has been discovered that tetracycline and a few related medications can cause permanent tooth staining when taken by women who are pregnant, or children under the ages of 8-12. 

What likely happens is the tetracycline binds to the hard tissues of the teeth. Then, when the tooth erupts, it causes a yellow discoloration that will eventually oxidize and turn brownish-gray. For this reason, pediatricians no longer administer this category of antibiotics to pregnant women or kids under the age of 12 in America.

Need Help With Yellow Teeth? Come To We Care Dental Care! 

At We Care Dental Care, Dr. Benjamin Burkitt can help you understand the cause of your child’s yellowed or discolored teeth, and explain your options for resolving the issue. To learn more and get started, just contact us at (540) 427-7274 for an appointment, or stop by our office at 3433 Orange Ave, NE Suite A1, Roanoke, VA 24012. 


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