A child’s first set of teeth are known as baby teeth, milk teeth or deciduous teeth. There are 20 primary teeth and these are noticeably smaller than adult teeth. The first to erupt is usually the lower central incisor when a baby is around 6 months. The last to grow is the second molar. All in all, baby teeth finish rooting when a child reaches 3 years old. Although milk teeth aren’t permanent, it is still very important to properly care for them to avoid infections and other serious dental conditions. Without proper oral care, several teeth problems can develop, particularly since kids generally like sweets. One problem that is more common than you think is the blackening of some or all teeth.
What Causes Teeth to Turn Black?
There are actually a number of causes why a child’s teeth can become black. Here are a few examples.
1. Trauma to Tooth or Gum
Children are very active, and they get into all sorts of accidents. If your baby bumped his tooth onto a hard surface, its color will probably become darker. The discoloration does not immediately occur. Instead, you’ll observe the change in color two to three weeks after the incident. The good news here is that the affected tooth will regain its normal color in time. But don’t expect it to happen overnight. It will take a few months.
What if the color does not return to normal? This does happen, and it can be due to a number of factors. For instance, the tooth could have been displaced or the vessel that’s supplying blood to the affected tooth was damaged.
Dentists will recommend for you to wait until the tooth returns to its normal color. Even if the tooth turns dark and the child isn’t complaining of pain or there are no indications that the site is infected, waiting it out is usually the suggested approach. But if there is severe trauma, pain, swelling and other unusual symptoms accompanying the discoloration, a dentist will probably order an x-ray and other exams to determine the problem.
2. Bottle Tooth Decay
Tooth decay that occurs in babies or very young kids who are still using the bottle or sippy cup to drink is also known as “baby bottle tooth decay.” This happens when there is bacteria buildup in the mouth. It can easily develop, especially if a parent or a caregiver forgets to take proper care of the baby teeth, since infants are often fed milk and other sweet fluids. The sugar in these drinks becomes attached to the teeth, which then attracts bacteria.
Keep in mind that although milk teeth aren’t permanent, there are still many health effects if a child looses his deciduous teeth too early due to dental caries. It can affect his eating and dental habits, and it can also have a detrimental effect on the growth and development of permanent teeth. So, what can you do to avoid bottle tooth decay? Here are some tips.
— Start brushing as soon as the first tooth erupts. Use a very soft bristled brush (with or without toothpaste) or clean gauze. This can encourage the production of saliva too, which helps in eliminating bacteria in the mouth. Also, the act of massaging the gums can promote blood flow and teething.
— Don’t allow your child to fall asleep with a bottle containing fluids other than water. Milk, juices, and other drinks that contain sugar should be consumed while a child is still awake. Wash this down with water, which helps rinse out the mouth. It is not advisable to allow kids to drink carbonated drinks or soft drinks too as these are sugary and do not contain vital nutrients.
— Visit your child’s dentist regularly. As soon as the first tooth appears, go to a dentist who can guide you regarding your baby’s dental health.
This blog was contributed by Claire Patel, a freelance writer and a mother.