In today’s day and age, aesthetics are very important and they influence our self-confidence and sense of self, our social interactions, and our status; a big part of this is our smile. Our smile shows how we present ourselves to the world and can influence our communication with others in social and educational areas.
We have talked about cavities, but today we need to touch base on another part of your and your family’s dental health, how to maintain a white smile.
Reasons Why a Smile Goes Yellow
There are several reasons why a child’s teeth can appear yellow, from the food they ingest to possible injuries that we should consider when this issue comes up. Here are some of the most common reasons:
- Poor oral hygiene: When kids don’t brush and floss regularly, food particles and bacteria can build up on their teeth, causing them to stain and discolor.
- Diet: Some foods and drinks, such as sugary snacks, sodas, and fruit juices, can stain the teeth and cause yellowing over time.
- Genetics: Some children may be more prone to yellow teeth due to genetics. In some cases, the enamel on the teeth may be thinner or naturally more yellow, which can make the teeth appear yellow even with good oral hygiene habits.
- Certain medications: Some medications such as antihistamines and other types of antibiotics can be known for causing tooth discoloration as some of their side effects.
- Supplements: Fluorosis occurs when a child ingests too much fluoride during the development of their teeth, leading to white or brown stains or streaks on the teeth. Iron could also cause teeth to go gray.
- Injury: If your child injures their teeth, blood vessels may break and make teeth appear yellow, brown, gray, or black. After these types of injuries, the vessels within the teeth can burst and this can damage the tooth coating itself.
It’s important to note that while some level of discoloration may be normal, severe yellowing or discoloration may be a sign of a more serious dental issue and should be evaluated by a pediatric dentist.
Recommendations to Maintain a White Smile
As most parents know, sometimes the greatest solutions to most problems can happen in the form of prevention, so before having to correct any issues we want to provide you with tips to help your child maintain healthy enamel:
- Encourage good oral hygiene: Make sure your child brushes their teeth twice a day for at least two minutes each time, using fluoride toothpaste. Flossing to remove plaque and food particles from between teeth is a practice that at least needs to happen every night before bed.
- Limit sugary and acidic foods and drinks: Encourage your child to eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Drink water: Water helps to rinse away food particles and bacteria from the teeth and can also help neutralize acid in the mouth.
- Visit the dentist regularly: Your child should visit the dentist for regular checkups and cleaning as part of the maintenance of their overall health.
- Consider dental sealants: Dental sealants are a protective coating that can be applied to the back teeth to help prevent decay and staining.
- Avoid tobacco: Tobacco use can stain teeth and increase the risk of gum disease and other dental problems. Encourage your child to avoid tobacco products.
- Monitor fluoride intake: While fluoride is essential for dental health, too much can cause fluorosis, which can lead to yellow or brown stains on the teeth. Make sure your child is using fluoride toothpaste and drinking fluoridated water, but don’t give them fluoride supplements unless recommended by a dentist.
What are Some Natural Solutions?
In case your child already has a yellow smile, there are some measures you can take such as professional bleaching when your child’s dentist can bleach stains near the surface of the enamel with a scrape, bleach, and seal technique. It involves applying a solution of sodium hypochlorite that works as a bleaching agent, and then a resin to block out future pigments in the coating.
Many parents like to try natural options first, so you could try to implement some of these ideas at home to prevent yellowing and maintain healthy, white teeth:
- Lemon and baking soda: To avoid plaque gathering on the tooth’s surface or remove some food stains, you might try a paste made of lemon juice and baking soda. Once per week, mix the baking soda with a few drops of lemon juice and have your child brush their teeth with them. Leave on for a couple of minutes before brushing again, and finalize rinsing well. This is a safe and natural method but since the lemon is acidic we don’t suggest using it too frequently.
- Brush with baking soda: Baking soda has natural whitening properties and can help remove surface stains from teeth. Mix a small amount of baking soda with your toothpaste and brush as usual.
- Drink water: Drinking plenty of water throughout the day can help rinse away food particles and bacteria from your teeth and neutralize the acid in your mouth.
- Chew sugar-free gum: Chewing sugar-free gum after meals can help stimulate saliva production, which helps to rinse away food particles and bacteria from your teeth.
By incorporating these natural methods into your oral