Tooth Discoloration in Toddlers: Causes and Problems

Tooth discoloration in toddlers can have many different causes. You can think of enamel abnormalities, due to a fall, use of medication or through cavities. These are examples that can occur with internal discoloration. In addition to internal discolorations, you also have external discolorations. External discolorations that occur in toddlers are mainly caused by the consumption of some foods or drinks or by an accumulation of bacteria.

Internal and external tooth discolorations in toddlers

The teeth and molars can become discolored both internally and externally due to various causes. The teeth are made of a hard enamel with underneath the dentine. The color of the dentine and the thickness of the enamel then ultimately determine the colors of the teeth.

Internal tooth discoloration in toddlers

Internal tooth discoloration in toddlers often occurs due to changes in the dentine or enamel. This can ultimately have various causes, for example due to a fall through which the dental nerve dies, but it can also be the case that it happens due to a disease or medication. I will tell you more about the different causes of internal tooth discoloration below.

External tooth discoloration in toddlers

External tooth discoloration is caused by certain dyes in the food and drink, and it can also be the case that it can be caused by a sticky accumulation of bacteria.

Causes of tooth discoloration in Toddlers

Below I will discuss the most common causes of tooth discoloration in toddlers.

Enamel abnormalities

There are many different types of enamel abnormalities, the main characteristic is that the teeth can change the structure and discolour over time. For example, you can think of a yellow-brown color where the teeth can show white spots. With amelogenesis imperfecta, the teeth can even turn brown or black due to the affected enamel. Most enamel abnormalities often occur during the development of the teeth, so when they have not yet broken through. Hence, most enamel abnormalities are generally not really curable. Due to the enormous vulnerability of the teeth with an enamel deviation, very good oral hygiene often applies. To keep your mouth clean, you can get information, advice and instruction from the dental hygienist or dentist who can help you with that.


It may also be the case that children who are ill may have discolored teeth and molars. Especially with a high fever or an infection can lead to discolored teeth in toddlers.


Certain medications or dietary supplements that contain iron and can cause dark spots on the teeth of babies and toddlers. It can also be due to a certain type of antibiotics (tetracycline), especially during the development phase of the teeth, which can lead to discoloration. Fortunately, these antibiotics are not prescribed to pregnant women and young children.

Chromogenic bacteria

Chromogenic bacteria that can lead to gray teeth, black spots on the teeth, or a green to orange-brown layer on the gum tooth. These annoying bacteria mainly produce hydrogen sulfide, which reacts with the iron in the saliva. Due to this, it can become an attack that can only be removed by a dental hygienist or by the dentist.

By poor brushing of the teeth

Due to poor brushing of your teeth, plaque mainly remains on your teeth. Dental plaque not only causes cavities, but also has a yellowish color that you cannot remove by yourself. You cannot start brushing early enough. One of the most common mistakes is that you think babies are too young to brush their own teeth. It is actually very important to brush immediately after the first teeth come through at least once a day, preferably before going to bed.

When the milk teeth are complete, so around 2.5 – 3 years, it is very important to brush twice a day. You brush a young children’s teeth with mainly soft hair and with fluoride-containing toddler toothpaste. A study has shown that children up to 10 years of age do not have the motor skills to keep their own teeth clean. That is why it is very important to brush your child’s teeth well until that age with fluoride toddler toothpaste.

Video how to best brush your toddler’s teeth


Bacteria that is present in the mouth mainly convert sugars from food and drink into an acid. That acid can eventually affect the enamel and also causes cavities, which can discolour your teeth. Even though you cannot see the cavities well, because it is between the toddler’s teeth, it can give a blue-gray discoloration over time, because the enamel is transparent.

Tartar is removed by a dental hygienist
Tartar is removed by a dental hygienist


Almost everyone has had it: tartar! Not only adults have tartar, tartar can also occur in toddlers. Tartar is a hardened plaque with a yellow or brown discoloration on your teeth. Dental plaque consists of a mixture of saliva, bacteria and leftover food that is between the teeth. You can easily remove plaque by yourself by brushing twice a day and for 2 minutes. You cannot remove tartar on the teeth by yourself, this can be removed by a dental hygienist / dentist.


An accident can sometimes happen, especially with children. When a child falls or is otherwise hit by the teeth, the nerve in the affected tooth may eventually die. The root canal runs in the inside of a tooth: a space filled with a nerve and blood vessels. A blow can eventually damage the nerve, causing it to die, resulting in a blue-gray “dead tooth.” A dead tooth can turn a gray color because the iron is released in the red blood cells. The discoloration of the tooth can occur within a few days after a blow, but it can also be the case that it suddenly happens years later. When it is with a permanent tooth, the tooth can be bleached from the inside after a root canal treatment (in which the root canal is completely filled). We also call this method the endo bleaching method.

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