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Why are my child’s new teeth yellow?

Around the age of 6-8 years old, children begin the emergence of their front adult teeth into their mouths. It’s not unusual for parents at this stage to ask me “Why is my child’s new teeth yellow”? There are several reasons for this.

Most parents think the reason is because the child is not brushing properly. While this may be the case, any build up/stain on the teeth can be removed and the clean tooth underneath can still appear yellow. The biggest reason the front adult teeth appear yellow is because the adjacent baby teeth are whiter. Seems rather silly right? Many parents are surprised to learn that the yellow color of the adult teeth is totally natural and the norm for all people. Once the remaining the baby teeth are lost, the color of the teeth across the mouth is more uniform.

What about the variation of color within one tooth? This is rarely a cause for concern too. Teeth tend to have inflections or what I sometimes call in my office “freckles”. They become more noticeable when a child is sick and must breathe through their mouth during sleep because their nose is stuffy. The air then passing over the teeth desiccates the teeth causing these white spots to appear. Once the child is no longer ill and can breathe normally through their nose again, the mouth stays closed and the teeth become re-hydrated returning the teeth to their usual state.

Sometimes these inflections are visible all the time and can be as a result of trauma to the tooth during development, poor formation of the enamel, or excessive fluoride (which is harmless). Sometimes white spots appear from poor brushing (which is called decalcification because the enamel is broken down from the plaque not being brushed off the teeth) and does require attention from a dentist.

What we see in magazines and advertisements showing off a sparkly white grin is not a natural state. Frequently the models shown have snow white teeth and we must remember that photoshop helped create that.

Some people naturally have a deeper yellow color than others. Bleaching the teeth with a dental professional is a good option. However, this option is not viable until they are at least 14 years old because immature teeth tend to be more sensitive.

So next time you think your child has yellow teeth, don’t hesitate to ask your dental professional about it.

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