teeth, stained

Children's teeth may become discolored for a number of reasons. Certain substances can actually discolor the enamel:
  • Floride in excessive amounts can cause fluorosis, which can vary in severity from minor white patches to brown stains
  • Hyperbilirubinemia in the newborn period can cause dark staining of the deciduous teeth ("baby teeth")
  • Tetracycline antibiotics given to the mother after the third month of gestation or to the child before age 8 can cause brown or yellow discoloration of the enamel; very short courses of tetracycline, for example for suspected Rocky Mountain fever after a tick bite, do not seem to carry as much risk of staining as longer or repeated courses
  • Iron drops given for iron deficiency may seem to stain the teeth, but actually only stain the accumulated plaque, not the enamel itself; these black stains eventually are removed by brushing. The discoloration of iron drops can be minimized by mixing the iron drops in some apple juice and giving them with a straw or sippee cup.

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