Why Are My Child’s New Adult Teeth So Yellow?

My child’s permanent teeth are so yellow compared to their baby teeth. Is something wrong? What should I do?

This is a question we are asked frequently, and the answer usually relieves parents. In most cases, these yellower teeth are completely normal. It’s actually somewhat of an optical illusion! You see, “baby teeth” (primary teeth) are actually nicknamed “milk-teeth” because of their bright, white color. They are beautiful, delicate and oh-so adorable. Then our permanent teeth make their appearance right beside those beauties. Permanent teeth are actually yellower than baby teeth, so when sitting right next to them, the difference can seem shocking.  Once your child’s permanent teeth have all come in, re-evaluate the color then and see how they appear to you. My guess is that they will not appear as yellow/dark as they first did while next to the “milk-white” teeth. If they are, and if the child is self-conscious, whitening toothpaste and possible whitening agents can be considered once your child is older.

There is also another cause of yellow teeth in children. The discoloration can be caused by poor oral hygiene. If a child does an inadequate job at brushing, a thick layer of yellow plaque can build up on his/her teeth. This can make teeth appear up to 3 to 4 shades darker than they actually are. So, look at your child’s teeth carefully. If you see a layer of “fuzzy” looking film that looks as if it could be scraped off, then that’s your likely culprit. A thorough cleaning can go a long way in helping this situation.

One last note to mention is that there can be other causes of darker teeth as well.  Certain genetic disorders, medications taken, infections, or even a high fever while the teeth are developing can affect the color and integrity of the teeth. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask us at your child’s next dental appointment or schedule an examination.


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