Why are children’s permanent teeth yellow? Common causes and types of tooth discolouration in children
The first distinction that must be made is determining if the colour is due to intrinsic or extrinsic stains. Intrinsic discolourations are due to changes from within the tooth, such as trauma or staining from specific types of antibiotics ingested at very specific times during a child’s development. These stains are difficult to remove. Extrinsic stains however, are due to external surface discolourations caused by the absorption of staining foods and beverages. An other very common cause is due to poor oral hygiene and bacteria accumulation on the surfaces of teeth, called “plaque”. These types of stains are much easier to remove with cleaning and polishing by a hygienist.
If a primary tooth has been injured, the tooth itself can turn grey or darker if bleeding and bruising has occurred within the tooth. Sometimes the colour can drain away over time.
If the traumatized primary tooth injured the developing adult tooth beneath then there is a risk that the permanent tooth could have been damaged, resulting in varying severities of surface blemishes or complete destruction of the permanent tooth if it had been injured at a vulnerable time of the tooth’s fomation .
Lastly, permanent teeth are naturally more yellow than primary (“baby”) teeth due to the thickness of enamel compared to dentin, the second yellow layer of the tooth. In permanent teeth,the dentin is significantly thicker and this colour tends to shine through the enamel. Therefore, the yellower permanent teeth is due to a difference in contrast when looking at adjacent whiter primary and yellower permanent teeth. Logically, these teeth will not appear as yellow once all of the primary teeth fall out.
It is still always our recommendation to have your child examined by a dental professional so that other causes can be ruled out.
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