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What Are the Causes of Yellow Teeth in Children?

author image Christina McDonald-Legg
Christina McDonald-Legg has been writing about health, wellness and travel since 1999. Her articles have appeared in "Colures Magazine" (London), "The Sunday Times" (Dublin), "The Connacht Tribune" (Galway) and "The Seattle Post-Intelligencer," and been featured online by the U.K. Department of Health. McDonald-Legg holds a Master of Arts in journalism from the National University of Ireland.
What Are the Causes of Yellow Teeth in Children?
Children's teeth are still forming their enamel and are susceptible to turning yellow from various factors. Photo Credit smile image by Stepanov from Fotolia.com

Just like adults, children want to have white, healthy teeth. Sometimes, however, you may notice your child's teeth have begun to turn yellow. There are several reasons this may happen. Tooth discoloration may be classified as external or internal, and treatment depends on what the cause of yellow teeth is.


This irreversible condition is caused by ingesting too much fluoride during the tooth-forming years. The fluoride damages the enamel-forming cells, resulting in a mineralization disorder that increases the sub-surface enamel. This porous surface causes the teeth to turn a dingy yellow.


Tetracycline is an antibiotic medication that can cause yellow teeth in children. Typically, this is contained in cold medication and is caused when ingested during childhood when the child's teeth are forming. The enamel staining may affect the entire tooth, or it may affect patches, lines or ribbons of the tooth. This depends on the duration of the exposure and what part of the tooth's enamel was being formed during that time. These stains are impossible to remove without using bleaching techniques. For this reason, children less than eight years of age are rarely prescribed Tetracycline.

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Tooth Trauma

Accidents that damage the nerve in or near a tooth may cause yellow staining in children's teeth. The stain only forms within the tooth or teeth that the nerve is attached to. If your child has one tooth that is gray or yellow from trauma to the nerve, you should take your child to the dentist immediately. Whitening may temporarily whiten the outside of the tooth, but the inside of the tooth needs professional attention.

Food and Drink

What your child eats and drinks can cause yellow teeth. Food and drink that are highly pigmented, such as blueberries, cherries, soda or soy sauce, will result in yellow tooth staining. The degree of tooth staining in children depends on long or regularly they are exposed to these products, as well as if the enamel was still forming when they were exposed to them. It is a good idea to have your child rinse with water after consuming heavily pigmented foods or acidic drinks.

Poor Dental Hygiene

Not brushing and flossing regularly in order to remove plaque and staining substances can cause teeth to discolor and turn yellow. You should teach your child to brush twice a day and floss once a day to avoid their teeth becoming stained and yellow.

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