My toddler's front tooth is darkening suddenly, what could this be?

(March 11, 2010)

Toddlers who suddenly develop a blackening of the teeth can cause a lot of worry for their parents. Darkening of toddlers’ teeth is not an uncommon phenomenon, and is usually put down to a slight bruising of the tooth, or more commonly, primary decay of the teeth for various reasons. When a child bumps his or her tooth against something, the blood vessels in the gum and surrounding areas suffer some form of impact. Because of the impact, a certain amount of discoloration is experienced in the tooth. Of the two possible causes, the more common one is the development of acids that eat into the enamel and begin the initial stages of decay.

When a toddler is put to bed with a bottle of sweetened milk or fruit juice in his or her mouth, the carbohydrates from the milk or the juice tend to react with the bacteria present inside the mouth itself to form an acid that attacks and damages the enamel of the tooth. When the enamel is attacked, the tooth suffers a certain amount of discoloration, causing it to look black in certain areas. If the toddler tooth decay is intensified to a point where the vessels supplying blood to the tooth are damaged, leading to the formation of an abscess, it is advisable that a baby tooth extraction be carried out, under the supervision of a dentist, to avoid the infection from causing damage to the permanent tooth that is still to grow.

Darkened spots on the teeth that have been caused by children bumping themselves into things will generally take a lighter shade over a couple of months. There is no need for any worry because these teeth will fall out in due course of time and be replaced by the permanent set of teeth. One of the most effective ways of avoiding darkening of the teeth caused by tooth decay is to refrain from putting a milk bottle into your child’s mouth before putting him or her to bed. Cleaning out your baby’s mouth by gently brushing the teeth with a soft brush will help to remove any particles of food that have remained in the mouth from a previous meal, thereby reducing the chances of formation of bacteria. Wiping your baby’s mouth clean with a soft towel will also have a similar beneficial effect. If the intensity of the darkened spots tends to increase, it is advisable that you take your toddler for a visit to the dentist.

Submitted by P T on March 11, 2010 at 11:23

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