What Can Cause Children's Teeth To Stain?

Parents often wonder why their children's teeth stain. Many factors exist that can cause some form of staining in the teeth. The causes of stains that occur from outer sources are called extrinsic stains. Examples can include:

  • dietary habits of the child
  • plaque and debris
  • certain vitamins, especially those that contain iron
  • poor oral hygiene habits                        

Other causes of staining in  children's teeth can occur from events that occurred during development of the teeth. These are usually classified as intrinsic stains and are stained from within the tooth. Examples can include:

  • disturbances from certain medications or the use of medications for prolonged periods of time.
  • illnesses that cause recurrent fevers
  • certain medical conditions that affect the development of teeth
  • excessive use of fluoride supplements                   

Intrinsic stains are usually the result of a disturbance within the tooth that occurred during the tooth's formative years. The cells of the enamel, which are quite sensitive to any abnormal disturbances, are affected, causing the staining and discolorations. These type of stains are usually treated with more invasive measures, whereas extrinsic stains are usually removed by the dentist or hygienist.

Black or brown stains: possible causes in younger children include trauma. If a child is hit in the mouth or hits a tooth, the blood vessels inside the tooth hemorrhage causing the blood to enter the dentin layer. This results in a discolored tooth. It is important to note that after initial trauma to the child's tooth, immediate discoloration may not show. A dentist should be visited.

Whitish or brownish chalky spots: usually caused by excessive fluoride during the formative years.

Greenish stains: found around the necks of children's teeth, by the gum line. This usually leaves when complete eruption of the tooth occurs. If this doesn't happen, then the tooth may be cleaned by the dentist or hygienist.

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