is tooth discolouration?
Tooth discolouration is when the enamel (the hard, outer surface of the tooth)
or the dentine (the layer below the enamel) become discoloured. Something as
simple as food and drink may cause stains to appear on the teeth. Sometimes
however, discolouration can indicate something more serious, such as exposure
to substances that have harmed the teeth.
causes tooth discolouration?
It takes several years for tooth enamel to develop and in that time, foreign
substances can be incorporated altering the eventual colour of the teeth.
In children, discoloured baby teeth are usually a result of tooth decay, which
is often caused by inadequate brushing. In such cases, normal, permanent teeth
grow in to replace the discoloured teeth. However, if your childs teeth
appear discoloured despite careful brushing, there is probably some sort of
a dental problem and you should consult your dentist.
In rare cases, childhood infections can make a tooth yellow or brown because
the enamel did not develop properly.
An infant may have tooth discolouration if the mother took tetracycline during
pregnancy. Similarly, children who take this medication during the period of
permanent tooth development may have similar discolouration of their permanent
Teeth can darken over time due to stains from food and drink. Excessive use
of fluoride can cause whitish to dark brown discolouration.
Illness, malnutrition and other types of physical stress can cause white splotches
on the teeth. An injury that causes bleeding in the pulp of the tooth may cause
the enamel to turn pink or grey.
can I prevent tooth discolouration?
- Avoid excessive fluoride use. You may want to find out the fluoride level
in your local water supply. It is important that we take fluorine into our
body, however too much can cause tooth discolouration.
- Do not take drugs belonging to the tetracycline family if you are pregnant
and do not give it to children who are under eight years of age.
- Ensure that children are aware of the importance of dental hygiene. They
should brush their teeth twice a day and this should be supervised to ensure
that they are doing it properly. Most children need help with brushing until
they are around seven.
can I do about my discoloured teeth?
Visit your dentist. Advances in dentistry in recent years means that discolouration
can usually be remedied. Cosmetic treatment, such as veneers or professional
tooth-whitening products are among the common solutions.
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