As both a mother and a dentist, I am often asked about what causes discoloured teeth and how they can be made brighter. This is not as straightforward of a question as some people and professionals would like you to believe.
There are actually many causes of brown teeth and it can be embarrassing whether the patient is an adult or a child. For most adults, the brown tooth colour is often caused by either the natural ageing process and/or external stains on the teeth caused by sources such as smoking, red wine, coffee, soda, or tea. However, brown teeth can also be caused by other more serious conditions, and there should always be evaluated by a dental professional prior to trying any teeth whitening treatments. There are genetic and other disorders which affect both adult and children’s teeth, turning them brown. If not appreciated probably, you can actually make the condition more severe, or worse, increase the chance of needing more complex and expensive dental treatment in the future.
Always be an advocate for you or your child’s health and be informed before trying any treatment (either at home or at the dentist). While in most cases the brown teeth are more of a nuisance than a harm, why take the chance? Once a diagnosis for the brown teeth is made by the appropriate professional, the options are many. Depending on the severity of discolouration and the overall shape of the brown teeth, options may include, teeth whitening, porcelain veneers, crowns or a tooth coloured fill to hide the colour. These are just to name a few, and should only be done after a thorough exam, x-rays and possible models of the teeth. A customized plan can then be made and hopefully will be as simple as teeth whitening. The prospect of having whiter teeth can be very exciting, especially if you have lived with brown teeth all your life! Be sure to research your options and fully discuss all of your expectations before starting treatment of any kind.
Children can also have brown teeth, but they are more likely to have a disorder than simply stains when the teeth are truly brown. Children’s teeth and toddlers’ teeth should be taken very seriously. The sooner the problem is diagnosed, the easier and cheaper the treatment may be. As a mom, I feel that even more important than this is knowing I am not causing preventable damage to my child because of lack of knowledge. Be your child’s advocate and always go with your gut instinct.
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