Did you know that dental problems cause children to miss more than 34 million school hours each year? Or that school-age kids with poor oral health are almost three times more likely to miss school? All those days of being absent, in turn, are often due to mouth pain.
That’s why parents need to be on the lookout for potential oral woes in their children. These include dark or black spots on baby teeth, which can signify problems, such as injuries or decay.
To that end, we came up with this guide discussing the top culprits behind dark or black stains on baby teeth. Read on so that you’ll also know what to do if your little one exhibits these signs.
Anemia, which occurs due to inadequate red blood cells, affects 25% of people worldwide. Of these individuals, about half have iron deficiency anemia (IDA). IDA, in turn, impacts approximately 2.7% of toddlers aged 1 to 2 years old in the United States.
One treatment available to children (and adults) with IDA is iron supplementation. Although effective, researchers found it can cause extrinsic tooth staining in baby teeth. The discoloration varies, but it can be dark red, brown, or even black.
If your little one takes an iron supplement, don’t just stop giving it to your child. Instead, let the pediatrician know. This way, the doctor can run tests to see if your child still needs iron supplements.
Use of Tetracycline
Tetracycline is an antibiotic used to treat certain lung and skin bacterial infections. For example, it can help stop the growth and spread of the bacteria that cause acne and pneumonia. In some cases, doctors prescribe it to treat patients with Lyme disease or malaria.
While effective as an antibacterial, researchers found that tetracycline can cause tooth staining. What’s more, it affects adults, fetuses, breastfed babies, and children up to eight years old.
Thus, tetracycline use during pregnancy or breastfeeding can lead to baby tooth stains. Kids exposed to the drug and whose teeth are still coming in can also develop extrinsic tooth stains.
In the first stages of the staining, the baby teeth can develop yellow patches or spots. Over time, though, the color can change and turn into brown or dark gray. From there, dark-colored food and drinks can cause the stains to darken further.
According to this guide on choosing a children’s dentist, as many as 17% of kids have untreated tooth decay. Tooth cavities, in turn, can cause multiple dark spots on baby teeth, ranging from brown to black.
Note that dental caries cause intrinsic stains, meaning the discoloration is from within. Fortunately, a pediatric dentist can remove the stains by treating the cavity.
During the treatment, the children’s dentist will remove the bacteria causing the decay. In doing so, the dark spots on your baby’s teeth also go away. From there, the specialist will put dental fillings into the holes the cavities left.
Don’t worry, as the color of the fillings mimics that of the tooth.
It’s imperative to have your little one see a dentist as soon as you notice that they have tooth decay. That’s because untreated cavities can invade the inner parts of the teeth and even spread to the gums. If this happens, the teeth and gums may cause pain and, over time, require extraction.
Moreover, untreated dental decay in babies and children can affect their oral bones. The bacteria can also cause more severe problems, such as gum disease.
Baby tooth discoloration that affects a single tooth can be a sign of dental trauma. The affected tooth may have darkened due to internal bleeding. The damage, in turn, may have resulted from impact, such as if something hard hit your baby’s tooth.
As with dental decay, tooth trauma also warrants a trip to the dentist. Otherwise, the injury may become infected, causing more oral problems down the road.
In the 2015 to 2016 NHANES, 70% of surveyed children and adolescents had dental fluorosis. Dental fluorosis, in turn, is a cosmetic condition affecting the enamel of the teeth. It results from excessive exposure to fluoride during the first eight years of life.
Drinking fluoridated water is the primary way children get exposed to fluoride. In the US, close to three-quarters of public drinking water has fluoride, as it helps keep tooth decay at bay.
However, many other dental products, such as toothpaste and mouthwash, also contain fluoride. In addition, this mineral is in infant formulas and food like potatoes, grapes, and spinach.
With so many sources of fluoride, it can be easy for babies and children to get overexposed to it. As a result, they can develop fluorosis, which can cause their teeth to stain. The stains can range from white spots to darker, even black patches.
Fortunately, fluorosis isn’t a medical concern and is also treatable with cosmetic dentistry. As such, if your child feels bothered by the stains, the dentist may recommend teeth whitening.
The enamel, the hardest structure in the body, is the outermost covering of the teeth. Unfortunately, some babies can develop issues like enamel hypoplasia. It’s a developmental problem that causes the teeth to have too little or even no enamel at all.
Enamel hypomineralization is another concern that can result in weak enamel. In this case, the teeth have difficulty absorbing minerals like fluoride. As a result, the enamel on the teeth remains frail or thin.
The third and most common problem related to enamel is its erosion. This issue usually arises from poor brushing habits and too much starchy or sugary food. It can, however, also be due to genetics.
Either way, enamel woes can result in your baby’s teeth developing light to dark stains. Therefore, it’s wise to take your little one to a dentist for enamel treatment.
Have Those Dark or Black Spots on Baby Teeth Treated Now
Please keep in mind that cavities in primary teeth can alsodamage permanent teeth. That’s why you should never ignore those dark or black spots on baby teeth, as they can already be a sign of tooth decay. Instead, take your little one to a pediatric dentist as soon as possible.
That way, the dentist can provide prompt treatment to save not only the milk teeth but the adult teeth, too.
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