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Yellow Teeth

yellow teeth being cleaned

What Causes Yellow Teeth?

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 for yellowing teeth will depend on the cause.

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

Plaque and staining can build up if a child doesn’t brush and floss regularly, causing teeth to turn yellow. Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day can help children avoid yellow teeth.

Teeth Trauma

Accidents that damage the nerve in or near a tooth, such as a fall, may cause 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, they need to visit a dentist immediately. Whitening may temporarily whiten the outside of the tooth, but the inside of the tooth needs professional attention.


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 and causes the teeth to turn a dingy yellow.

Tetracycline (antibiotics)

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.

Iron (Multivitamins)

If there are dark stains on your toddler’s teeth, it may be due to the iron in their multivitamin. Roughly one in one thousand kids are susceptible to this kind of stain, and the stains can be very difficult to remove so regular brushing and flossing are crucial to prevent the stain building up.

Genetic Disorders

Occasionally a child’s yellow teeth are linked to a genetic disorder called dentinogenesis imperfecta. Often a child with this condition has a parent with the same condition, and medical advice is needed to diagnose and manage other aspects of the condition.

How Can I Treat Yellow Teeth?

Dental Treatment

If your child has yellow teeth, you should seek the advice of a dental professional to ensure there are no serious or chronic underlying conditions. Some conditions may require placing caps on the teeth to prevent unnecessary wear and tear. Sealants are also likely to help avoid decay if poor brushing is likely to blame. In some situations, treatment may include whitening or veneers, which were previously only available to adults. Your dentist can also give your child’s teeth a thorough, professional clean as part of their regular check-up.

Home Remedies

If your child’s yellow teeth appear to be the result of poor brushing or surface stains, you can take measures at home to whiten their teeth. Start by ensuring they brush every surface of their teeth twice a day for at least two minutes each time.

Use a kid-friendly fluoride mouthwash if your child is old enough, in accordance with the product’s label. Whitening strips and gels may also be appropriate for children over the age of 12.

Try brushing their teeth with a little bit of baking soda and water.

Whilst yellow teeth are not necessarily an indication of tooth decay, it’s good practice to remove plaque and other stains regularly.

What are the Long Term Effects of Yellow Teeth?

The long-term effects of yellow teeth vary greatly depending on the cause of the yellowing. Yellow teeth may be prone to decay and weakness, causing chipped teeth. This affects children of all ages, as baby teeth are as important as permanent teeth. Yellow teeth also pose social concerns. If the discoloration is extreme, your child may be teased so it’s best to seek early treatment.