discoloured teeth , chromogenic bacteria, black stains, kids teeth

Why does my kid have discolored teeth?

Are you worried about your kids smile ??
Does your child have discolored teeth ??
Do you want your child to have a beautiful smile ??

If the answer to all the above questions is a YES ! then this article is for you.

Most of the times parents are worried about the stains on the kids teeth, but the problems is they notice it a little late. When the stains have increased they start paying attention to it as it starts becoming physically more visible. But actually that should not have been the case.

Did you know the child’s first dental visit should be done by the Child’s First birthday??
Did you know we should start brushing our kid’s teeth when the first tooth erupts in the child’s mouth??

The awareness for dental and oral health is very blurred in our society, so the rate of ECC (Early Childhood Caries) is also very high. According to a survey, India has a prevalence of 51.9% of ECC.

What is a Discolored Tooth?

The natural color of the permanent teeth varies from slightly yellow to white, not pure white. So any change in the natural color of teeth signifies discolored teeth, it might be more towards yellow, black or even sometimes a little green.

Kids mainly have black stains on the surface of their teeth which usually start on the gum line.

The tooth has an outer layer of Enamel, the middle layer the Dentin and the inner layer the Pulp. So, if the discoloration involves only the outer layer i.e the enamel then the stains are extrinsic. If the inner layers are also involved then the stains are intrinsic.

Causes of Discolored Teeth and their Prevention and Treatment

1. Chromogenic Bacteria

staining due to Chromogenic bacteria on kids teeth, discoloured teeth , chromogenic bacteria, black stains, kids teeth
Source: Stomatopedia Atlas

These are the colonies of bacteria which are mainly present in a child’s mouth which causes the discoloration of the child’s teeth.

These bacteria when once are not removed start depositing on the surface of the tooth and stain the tooth causing black or sometimes even orange stains. These can be very easily diagnosed but a professional opinion is always required.

The stains can be avoided if proper oral hygiene is maintained, and it is a parents or the care givers responsibility to brush the child’s teeth twice a day, as the children younger than the age of 7 lack the dexterity to brush their teeth themselves effectively.

These stains are extrinsic stains and can be removed professionally by the dentist, but can not be removed at home with simple brushing once the stains are formed.

The number of chromogenic bacteria keeps reducing in the child’s mouth as the child grows and the permanent teeth start erupting.

Prevention and Treatment:

  • – Brushing twice a day is the best solution. The plaque formation starts within the 24 hours of brushing and slowly it starts to harden in approximately 42-72 hours and then is difficult to remove.
    So, brushing twice a day will help in removing the plaque from the surface of the tooth and prevent the bacteria from depositing. Use a grain size of kids age appropriate fluoridated tooth paste and brush twice daily for a child less than 3 years of age and a pea size of the toothpaste after the child turns 3 years of age.
  • – Regular dental visits are important. Yes, you heard it right regular dental visits even for children are important and should be done once every 6 months. The dentist will remove the stains with a professional cleaning.

The stains will come back if a proper oral hygiene is not maintained.

2. Iron Stains

black iron stains on teeth, discoloured teeth , chromogenic bacteria, black stains, kids teeth
Source: Science Photo Library

You are giving your child iron supplements or multivitamins ? Then that can be another cause of black stains on the child’s teeth. The multivitamins also contain iron in them which leads to black stains on the surface of the teeth.

Doctors prescribe iron supplements to your child when they need it, the iron deficiency is cured but it causes staining of the child’s teeth as most of the times liquid supplements are prescribed. The supplement touches the surface of the teeth and therefore causes staining of teeth.

It is not harmful but aesthetically it doesn’t look good and also might cause a loss of self confidence for a child especially the school goers.

Prevention and Treatment:

Iron supplements are to be given if it has been prescribed by your pediatrician. But the stains can be prevented or reduced if:

  1. 1. You dilute the supplement with water or juice
  2. 2. You give water immediately after the supplement
  3. 3. Use a straw while giving the supplement to avoid contact with teeth
  4. 4. Brush twice a day

If the stains still are present a professional dental scaling (cleaning) is required.

3. Poor Oral Hygiene

cleaning and polishing | staining from food and drinks | yellow teeth, discoloured teeth , chromogenic bacteria, black stains, kids teeth

Parents give the least importance to dental health for kids. When we bathe the baby everyday or even two times in a day sometimes, then why not brush their teeth.

The child is eating and drinking using his or her baby teeth everyday. There is plaque and bacteria over the surface of the teeth, and it definitely needs cleaning.

Due to poor oral hygiene the plaque gets deposited over the surface of teeth which can eventually change into calculus (tartar) and also cause discoloration of teeth.

Prevention and Treatment:

Oral health is as important as the overall health. The oral cavity is a space that comes in contact of all kinds of food and drinks. So, it needs proper cleaning twice every day even for the children.

The myth that my child just has a single tooth why should I brush is not true. Every single tooth in the child’s mouth needs proper cleaning. The milk teeth have very important function and we need to preserve them.

The stains on the surface of the teeth can be prevented with proper oral hygiene. If your child has close contact between the teeth, you should start flossing as early as possible.

4. Fluorosis

fluorisis stains, discoloured teeth , chromogenic bacteria, black stains, kids teeth

Certain areas have a little too much Fluoride in their drinking water, which is the main cause of fluorosis. Fluorosis mainly occurs even before the eruption of the permanent teeth. The water consumption which has excessive fluoride before the age of 6-7 years is responsible for fluorosis.

Sometimes, the formula milk is mixed with fluoridated water, and if this is the main source of your child’s diet it can be the reason for fluorosis. It appears as white pits on the surface of the teeth. Sometimes it is extensive and sometimes so mild, that is barely visible.

Another reason for fluorosis is too much intake of fluoridated toothpaste by the child.

Prevention and Treatment:

Yes fluorosis can be prevented. You can check online what is the fluoridate level in the drinking water supplied to your area. If the levels are higher than 2.0 mg/L or parts per million, you need to think about an alternate source of drinking water, or home water treatment which will help in removing excessive fluoride from the water. This is a must for children younger that 6 years of age.

Make sure your child brushes with only a kids age appropriate toothpaste and not an adult toothpaste. Use only a grain size of toothpaste till the age of 3 years and a pea size after the age of 3 years. Brush twice a day. Assist the child in brushing at least till the age of 6 years.

5. Tooth Injury

Kids play, kids fall, teeth get injured.

Sometimes when there is no external bleeding we ignore it and do not get it checked. But because of the blow there is internal bleeding and the tooth turns non vital and there starts a change in color of the tooth and it turns almost black in color.

A single black tooth is a sign of dental trauma or accident.

Prevention and Treatment:

If the child had a dental injury visit a dentist as soon as possible. Do not delay. The color change of the tooth might be visible after around 10-15 days, or even more. If the color is changing you will have to get a root canal done of the concerned tooth and then a cap (crown) over the tooth.

6. Enamel Defects

enamel hypoplasia, discolored teeth , chromogenic bacteria, black stains, kids teeth
Source : Wikipedia

Enamel defects, most commonly know as enamel hypoplasia is seen in kids sometimes. The enamel in this defect is either very thin, has pits, is stained or sometimes completely absent. The cause can vary from genetic to environmental.

The teeth with Enamel hypoplasia appear more brownish in color and can be more sensitive to hot and cold. The tooth is more prone to cavities, abrades more often. It is not necessary if the milk teeth had enamel hypoplaia then the permanent teeth also would be affected, and vice versa. If the environmental factors are involved, depending upon the exposure either of the dentition can be affected.

Prevention and Treatment:

Prevention to enamel hypoplasia is difficult, as it is diagnosed after the eruption of teeth. But there are treatment options and home remedies to prevent further loss of enamel.

  1. 1. Brush twice a day with a pea size of age appropriate fluoridated toothpaste
  2. 2. Give your child a nutritious diet
  3. 3. Avoid sticky food and food rich in sugar content
  4. 4. Make sure to visit a dentist twice a year for a routine dental examination. The dentist will either do fluoride application or fillings as per the situation. For full coverage of the tooth, dental crowns are recommended it the defect is severe.

7. Medical Conditions

hyperbilirubinemia green teeth,discoloured teeth , chromogenic bacteria, black stains, kids teeth
Green teeth due to Hyperbilirubinemia

Certain medical conditions are responsible for the improper development of enamel and dentin of the tooth. Diseases like hyperbilirubinia give a green or yellowish hue to the tooth. The parents might sought for treatment or remedies for the same.

Prevention and Treatment:

If the milk teeth are affected, there is nothing that needs to be done. The discoloration can not be removed by brushing and the whitening agent should not be used in kids. Best is to wait for the permanent teeth to erupt and these permanent teeth ill not be green.

8. Cavities

dental caries | ECC |Early CHildhood Caries, discoloured teeth , chromogenic bacteria, black stains, kids teeth

Often the parents or the care givers mistake cavities for stains. Which is why a regular dental visit even for the kids is mandatory.

Cavities start due to poor oral hygiene, eating too much of sticky food like chocolate, chips and biscuits, night feeds, too many juices and drinks with high sugar content or sometimes even when a child has a habit of keeping the bite in the mouth for a long time.

A cavity might start as a white flaky line and finally turn to brown and the black in color. The tooth structured will be destroyed slowly and the child might even have pain and abscess (pus with respected to the infected tooth).

The milk teeth are as important as the permanent teeth and should be treated immediately.

Prevention and Treatment:

To prevent cavities:

  1. Brush your child’s teeth twice every day using a grain size of kids age appropriate fluoridated toothpaste till the age of 3 years. After the age of 3 years use a pea size of toothpaste.
  2. If the contact between your child’s teeth is tight, start flossing once daily.
  3. Avoid night feeds.
  4. Avoid sticky food like chocolates, chips and biscuits.
  5. Give a nutritious diet which include fruits and vegetables.
  6. Visit a dentist once every 6 months so that if there is any cavity it can be filled as soon as identified.

To treat cavities:

  1. 1. If it is very initial stage, fluoride application can be done and that prevents the further invasion of the decay.
  2. 2. If the cavity is a little deep but does not involve the pulp (inner layer of the tooth) the filling can be done.
  3. 3. If the decay has invaded the pulp, a pulpotomy (removal of upper surface of pulp) or pulpectomy (complete removal of the pulp) is done depending up on the situation.

9. Stains from Food and Drinks

Our food and drinks contains substances that cause the discoloration of surface of the teeth when consumed regularly. Kids need not worry much about these as most of them like tea and coffee are not consumed by kids.

But one most important thing found especially in Indian food is “Turmeric”, which when consumed regularly can cause the teeth color to change into slightly yellow color.

Prevention and Treatment:

The prevention of the staining caused by food and beverages is to avoid them. But that is not possible in most of the cases. So, rinsing frequently after eating can be one solution.

The other thing is to visit a dentist twice annually and get a proper cleaning and polishing of the teeth done. This will remove the extrinsic stains (on the surface of enamel), but will not have any effect on the intrinsic stains (stains which are inside the enamel).

Why are the Milk Teeth more Whiter than the Permanent Teeth?

The milk teeth are most of the time pearly while, white the permanent teeth are slightly yellow in color.

The reason for that is, the layer which is the dentin is responsible for giving the yellowish color to the teeth. And the milk teeth has less of dentin as compared to the permanent teeth, so appear whiter.

Why is Preventing Staining Of Teeth So Important?

Teeth is one of the first thing someone notices about you. So, a beautiful smile adds to the personality. When a child has stains on the teeth, he or she gets picked at school by the fellow students. This lowers the child’s morale. to help them not loose confidence it is important for them to have a healthy smile.

Not just this, a child should know the importance of good oral hygiene. And if proper brushing and regular dental visits are followed chances are there would be less discoloration of teeth.

So overall, it is a good habit to stay neat and clean, weather or not someone is noticing.

Take Away Message

Oral Hygiene is very important to maintain and if proper care is taken at home most of the times the stains can be avoided to some extend.

Start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth erupts in the child’s mouth. Do not wait for all the teeth to erupt.

Remember, the first dental visit of the child is mandatory by the child’s first birthday.

Happy Brushing!


This blog provides general information about discolored teeth. The opinion and content on this blog is only for conversational purposes and should not be interpreted as medical advice pertaining to any particular individual. If the reader or any other person has a dental concern, he or she should consult with an appropriate licensed dentist.

To book an appointment with us click the link www.32sparklets.com

Read: Grinding of Teeth in Toddlers!

3 thoughts on “Why does my kid have discolored teeth?”

  1. Pingback: When to start using toothpaste for kids? - DentistMaa

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top