Discoloration of teeth in children

Children want nice looking teeth, as well as an attractive smile. They can be very self-conscious about dental stains and discolorations. Tooth bleaching and esthetic dentistry is now available to treat these problems in children and adolescents. This article will discuss the causes of stained teeth in children.

Tooth discoloration may be classified as either extrinsic (external) or intrinsic (internal). Extrinsic discoloration may be caused by food, beverages, or medications. Intrinsic discoloration may be sub-classified into superficial enamel discoloration, and deep internal discoloration.

External tooth surface discoloration can be caused by either direct or indirect staining. These external stains can usually be removed by a dental cleaning.

  • Direct external staining is caused by organic compounds in food and drink which are incorporated into the tooth pellicle (tooth film) An example of direct staining is the coffee stain.
  • Indirect external staining is associated with cationic antiseptics ( such as chlorhexidine) and metal salts (such as iron).
  • Non-metallic indirect stains can be caused by quarternary ammonium compounds such as chlorhexidine rinses.
  • Metallic indirect stains can be caused by metallic salts, such as iron supplements.

Factors known to cause intrinsic discoloration include:
metabolic disorders, systemic syndromes, dentin defects, tetracycline stains, fluorosis, trauma, and enamel hypoplasia.

 (An article in Journal of Contemporary Dental Practice, May 22, 2004)