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Discolored baby teeth: A cause for concern?By Mayo Clinic staff
Original Article: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/baby-teeth/AN01056
- With Mayo Clinic prosthodontist
Alan Carr, D.M.D.read biographyclose window
Alan Carr, D.M.D.Alan B. Carr, D.M.D.
Dr. Alan B. Carr, Department of Dental Specialties at Mayo Clinic, is a consultant in the Division of Prosthodontics and a professor of dentistry at the Mayo Clinic College of Medicine.
Dr. Carr, a native of Hattiesburg, MS., received his prosthodontics training at Mayo. Following his training he has was an assistant professor at Marquette University and then became a full professor at Ohio State University where his clinical duties included Director of Maxillofacial Prosthetics at the James Cancer Hospital. He returned to Mayo in 2000.
Dr. Carr is board certified by the American Board of Prosthodontics. He served in the Air Force and has degrees from the University of Southern Mississippi, University of Mississippi and Mayo Graduate School of Medicine. He also is a member of numerous professional organizations including the American Academy of Maxillofacial Prosthetics, the American College of Prosthodontists and the American Dental Association. He has made dozens of international and national presentations, and is author of a dental textbook.
His clinical practice focuses on combined prosthodontics and reconstruction of patients with disabling oral conditions. His research interests include oral and craniofacial endosseous implants, tobacco cessation, and the impact of oral health on general health, especially for patients with chronic illness and the elderly.
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Discolored baby teeth: A cause for concern?
My 8-month-old son is getting his first baby teeth, and they seem discolored. Should I be worried?
from Alan Carr, D.M.D.
Baby teeth, also called primary teeth, are typically off-white or ivory. Baby teeth can become discolored for many reasons, including:
- Inadequate brushing. If baby teeth aren't brushed properly, bacteria (plaque) may form on the teeth — which can lead to tooth discoloration.
- Medication use. Infant medications containing iron, such as supplemental vitamins, may cause dark stains on baby teeth. Taking the antibiotic tetracycline during pregnancy can cause a child to have discolored baby teeth, too.
- Tooth or gum injury. Trauma to baby teeth or gums may cause discoloration, often giving baby teeth a pink or gray tint.
- Weak enamel. A genetic problem with enamel formation may lead to discolored baby teeth.
- Excessive fluoride. Too much fluoride (fluorosis) may cause bright white spots or streaks on the teeth.
- Newborn jaundice. A baby who develops jaundice after birth may have baby teeth with a green tint.
- Serious illness. A widespread infection during infancy may result in discolored baby teeth. Conditions such as newborn hepatitis and some types of heart disease can have the same effect.
If the discoloration is caused by poor dental hygiene, more thorough brushing — using water and a small, soft-bristled toothbrush or the fingertip variety designed for infants — may help. There's no need to use toothpaste until your son learns to spit, usually about age 2 or 3.
In addition, remember that sipping milk or juice throughout the day or while falling asleep contributes to tooth decay. Don't let your son carry a bottle or sippy cup during the day and don't put him to bed with a bottle, unless it contains only a small amount of plain water. Also, don't share eating utensils with your son. This can spread cavity-causing bacteria. If your son uses a pacifier, don't clean it in your mouth — and never dip a pacifier in honey or other sugary coatings.
Discuss your concerns about your son's baby teeth with his doctor. He or she might refer you to a pediatric dentist. After addressing any underlying issues, the dentist might recommend bleaching the discolored teeth or simply watching the teeth for signs of other problems.Next question
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- Baby bottle tooth decay (early childhood tooth decay). American Dental Association. http://www.ada.org/3034.aspx. Accessed Jan. 4, 2011.
- Teething. American Dental Association. http://www.ada.org/3015.aspx?currentTab=1. Accessed Jan. 4, 2011
- Grossman LK. Dental stains. In: McInerny TK, et al. American Academy of Pediatrics Textbook of Pediatric Care. Elk Grove Village, Ill.: American Academy of Pediatrics; 2009:1437.
- Interim guidance on fluoride intake for infants and young children. American Dental Association. http://www.ada.org/1767.aspx. Accessed Jan. 4, 2011.