Paedodontist Dr. Terry Teo of Q&M Dental explains why this is so, and what to do about it.
So your child brushes their teeth every morning and night and ticks the entire checklist of good dental habits.
But what if their baby teeth still aren’t very pretty to look at – not only are they not white, there are also various components like spacing and size to consider. These conditions may have a lasting impact on the permanent teeth later on in life.
I’ve noticed my child’s baby teeth darkening in colour. What does this mean?
In children, discolouration in the front teeth is often due to these common reasons:
Tooth decay or early childhood caries (ECC)
The most common disease of childhood, ECC causes teeth to rapidly turn brown or black as they chip off and rot away.
This can lead to pain, infection, appetite loss, and also aff ect the growth of succeeding permanent teeth.
In toddlers, ECC is usually caused by bottle feeds at night.
Yellow stains are due to plaque deposit on children’s teeth, stemming from a lack of proper cleaning while brown stains are often due to the consumption of coloured food or drink such as chocolate. Black stains are often caused by bacterial deposits that require regular professional cleaning, but luckily tend to regress in adolescence.
Children fall and bump into things as they explore the world.
Should a front tooth get knocked, the nerves within may get injured, which will result in the affected tooth turning grey or red.
If the tooth subsequently dies, the discolouration may deepen, leading to a gum infection that may, in turn, affect the colour of the permanent tooth growing under it.
I’ve noticed gaps in between my child’s teeth and each tooth looks rather small. Is this normal?
Yes, as baby teeth are naturally smaller in size.
One of the functions of baby teeth is to ensure that permanent teeth properly erupt into their correct positions. As such, space between baby teeth is actually good, because it means that the permanent teeth have enough space to grow out straight later on.
It is also important to note that early loss of a baby tooth may predispose your child to misaligned permanent teeth in that area in the future.
My child’s teeth are protruding and don’t meet when his or her mouth closes. What could be causing it?
Prolonged pacifier or thumb-sucking habits can mould your child’s jaws into such a position.
If these habits are not stopped at a young enough age, this appearance becomes permanent and may need aesthetic correction later on.
By The Finder, November 2016
A specialist paediatric dentist with Q&M Dental Group, Dr. Terry Teo treats children from birth till adolescence at his clinical practice and holds Council positions with the Singapore Dental Association and The Society for Paediatric Dentistry (Singapore). In addition to being a part-time undergraduate tutor at the Faculty of Dentistry, NUS, Dr. Teo also practices at the Q&M Dental Centres at Novena Square and Simei MRT station. Find out more here.