Noticing a spot on your toddler or baby’s tooth can be a bit of a shock. It can be difficult to wrestle these busy toddlers down to get them to let you help brush their teeth twice a day. It can be even more difficult to teach them a good dental hygiene routine.
There are lots of different causes of spots on children’s teeth. Figuring out what is causing the spots and what you can do to help fix or prevent spots from occurring is a good place to start in making sure your child has healthy strong teeth. The main cause of spots on your child’s teeth is poor dental hygiene.
Thinking that their baby teeth will fall out eventually so you don’t have to worry about spots now is not always a good solution. Decaying baby teeth can actually cause decay in teeth below the gums as new adult teeth come in.
What does tooth decay look like?
White spots that are dry and chalky looking are the first sign of tooth decay. These spots usually are found near the gums. This decay is caused by demineralization of the enamel. This can happen if the teeth are being cleaned properly or the child isn’t getting a healthy diet. If these white spots start to turn to brown or yellow spots that means the decay is ongoing.
Fluoride & Fluorosis
White spots could also mean fluorosis. Fluorosis is when you are getting too much fluoride. Fluoride is used to prevent cavities, treat tooth plaque, and gingivitis. Like most things, too much of a good thing can be bad. These bright white spots are just a cosmetic concern. It is not a concern of oral health.
Usually these bright white spots are actually stronger than the enamel around them. Talk with your dentist to make sure you aren’t overdoing the amount of fluoride your child should be getting.
Another cause of white spots on teeth is calcium deposits. This calcification and adhesion of dental plaque can cause white spots in between teeth or near the gums. If these are present on your child’s teeth it is usually recommended that your child go get a professional cleaning done. These calcium deposits are caused by saliva so the teeth usually most affected are ones near the salivary ducts in your mouth.
Tooth spots aren’t always just white. If your child has a gray or black spot on their teeth this could be a sign that they are getting too much iron. Your child could be getting too much iron in cases when the water is iron rich, or they are on an iron supplement. Eating too much fortified rice cereal can also be a culprit. These spots are not harmful and usually can be brushed away.
Injury & Trauma
If you notice an entire tooth of your child’s is dark or gray this could be from an injury or trauma. Such as a fall where they hit their mouth, or taking a hockey puck to the mouth. This trauma can lead to bleeding inside the tooth causing the discoloration. If your child suffers from this you will want to make sure a dentist examines the tooth.
Teeth that have a green or yellow hue to them can be caused by hyperbilirubinemia. This is a medical condition where there is too much bilirubin in the blood. This condition can lead to discoloration of the teeth. Some medications can also cause tooth discoloration, such as certain antibiotics.
If you notice spots on your child’s teeth you may want to consult your pediatrician. They may refer you to a pediatric dentist if they feel like it is necessary.
Tips for Healthy Toddler Teeth
- While your child is still young, help brush their teeth at least twice a day.
- Until they can rinse and spit make sure that you aren’t using a fluoride toothpaste.
- Set up a dental hygiene routine.
- Get some fun apps, timers, or songs involved to peak interest in your children.
- Watch what beverages they are drinking and try not to overdo it with the sugary drinks.
- A well balanced healthy diet can do wonders for their dental care as well.
- Try to eliminate the bottles by age one, and move to a free flowing form of sippy cup or drinking cup, to prevent baby bottle tooth decay.
- Try to avoid swapping saliva with your little one, eating from the same utensil or drinking after each other, this can pass cavity causing bacteria from you to your child.