For a vast majority of parents, aside from routine cleanings there is no need for real concern regarding their child’s teeth until it is time to consider braces. For others, however, there are certain conditions that require them to seek advanced dental care. Only a few situations might cause a child’s tooth to turn dark to the point where it appears almost black.
Teeth can appear dark or blackened from excessive fluoride use and overuse of certain medications or vitamins, according to Dr. Daniel Ravel's website DentalResource.org. Another cause of dark teeth, trauma to the mouth, however, is quite common in children, and can occur by tripping, falling or getting hit in the mouth.
Some genetic conditions can also cause teeth to appear darker. Dentin Dysplasia Type I occurs when permanent teeth appear normal but the root structure is anything but. According to BioMed Central Oral Health, this rare condition causes teeth to appear almost blue or black.
Dentinogenesis Imperfecta is also a genetic tooth disorder that occurs early during dental development, according to the National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health website Genetic Home Reference. Teeth appear translucent with a blue-gray tint, although in some the tint is yellow-brown. Children with this condition are prone to weak teeth that easily break, fall out or show signs of wear. The condition affects both baby and permanent teeth.
Fluorosis and medication containing iron can cause teeth darkening during a child’s formative years. According to Mayo Clinic prosthodontist Alan Carr, D.M.D., women who take the antibiotic tetracycline during pregnancy risk staining fetal teeth. Trauma like a blow to the mouth can occur at any time during childhood and can cause the tooth's blood vessels to hemorrhage and enter the tooth’s dentin layer. Parents usually notice darkening caused by genetic conditions as soon as baby teeth emerge.
Treatment depends on the depth of the stain, according to DentalResource.org. Minor stains are those less than a few tenths of a millimeter, and can improve with over-the-counter and dental office whitening agents. Deeper stains may require removing a layer of enamel and replacing it with a composite veneer.
Blackening caused by trauma usually affects the baby tooth but not the permanent tooth, in which case the child usually lives with the condition until that tooth eventually falls out. In the event of permanent tooth damage, dentists often perform a root canal.
Treatment for Dentin Dysplasia Type I is challenging and often requires both sinus and bone augmentation surgery. Treatment for Dentinogenesis Imperfecta usually requires permanent teeth be covered by crowns or dentures depending on the extent of the damage.
Parents should be aware that immediate discoloration does not always occur following trauma, according to Dr. Peter D. Vastardis of Garden City Dental Associates. Parents should play it safe and take a child with a tooth or mouth trauma to the dentist for examination.
- Peter D. Vastardis, D.M.D.: What Can Cause Children's Teeth To Stain?
- MayoClinic.com: Discolored Baby Teeth
- DentalResource.org: Treatment of Stained and Discolored Teeth in Children
- BioMed Central Oral Health: Dentin Dysplasia Type I: a Challenge for Treatment With Dental Implants
- Genetic Home Reference: Dentinogenesis Imperfecta