Blog

Is Baby Formula Staining Your Child’s Teeth?

So your baby or toddler has a few teeth now (oh how time flies)! It seems like just yesterday you were holding them for the first time, and now they’re growing so fast it seems you’re having to buy new clothes for them constantly!

It’s a fun time, but it’s also a very busy and stressful time. You’re always worried about your baby’s health, and one thing in particular that causes a concern for a lot of moms and dads out there is when your child’s new baby teeth seem to have a stain on them.

As a parent, some of your first thoughts are probably:

  • What happened?
  • Did I do something wrong?
  • Is something wrong with my child?

In most cases, the answer is no, and in this article, we’re going to go into a few more details on how teeth become stained, and why your baby’s formula and overall diet may be to blame.


Stained baby teeth: A cause for concern?

Baby teeth (or primary teeth) are normally whiter in color than the teeth that your child will have later in life. The reason for this is simple; baby teeth are more calcified.

If your baby’s teeth start to become a different color, it’s understandable why you might be concerned, and the best course of action is to make an appointment with a pediatric dentist who can make an accurate diagnosis.

The only time when baby teeth being discolored are really a concern are when:

A single tooth is much darker than the others. This could mean there is bleeding in the tooth, which requires medical attention.

Baby teeth that are green or yellow in color. This could be a sign of an underlying illness, and you should consult with either your pediatrician or a pediatric dentist as soon as possible.


What is the most common reason baby teeth become stained?

While those two medical issues above could be a culprit for your child’s stained teeth, one of the most common causes of stained teeth is actually baby formula.

Yeah, that’s right…the stuff that your baby needs to survive and thrive can also stain their teeth!
According to a study from The Journal of Pediatric Pharmacology and Therapeutics, baby formulas and cereals can lead to extrinsic teeth staining in some infants, due to an accidental overconsumption or iron.

Here is an excerpt from the study:

“Commercially available infant formulas are fortified with iron. Infant formulas have been classified by the United States Food and Drug Administration as either low-iron formulas or iron-fortified formulas based on their iron content. By definition, iron-fortified formulas contain more than 6.7 mg/L of elemental iron (Table).1An additional source of dietary iron is available from infant cereals.8 These cereals also provide a non-pharmacological option for treating gastroesophageal reflux in infants when used to thicken the formula, as in this case report. The standard recommendation for thickening a bottle is 1 tablespoon (tbsp) rice cereal (Gerber 1.65 mg of elemental iron/tbsp) for every 1 ounce of formula (Enfamil Lipil with Iron, 0.36 mg of elemental iron/ounce). For example, an 8-ounce bottle of formula thickened with iron-fortified rice cereal would contain approximately 16.1 mg of elemental iron. Consequently, when iron-fortified infant formula is supplemented with iron-fortified rice cereal the infant may exceed the daily requirements for iron which may lead to adverse effects.”

You can read the entire study (it’s a quick read) by visiting the web page below:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3462040/

As you can see, even by doing all of the things you are supposed to do to care for your baby, it’s still possible for them to experience extrinsic teeth staining (hey, no one said taking care of an infant or toddler is easy, right?).


Here are a few other reasons your infant or toddler may have stained teeth…

You’ll need to visit a pediatric dentist for an exam to see if an overconsumption of dietary iron is causing your child’s discolored teeth, and if it’s found that isn’t the likely cause, then it could also be one of the following:

● An underlying illness such as too much bilirubin in the blood (hyperbilirubinemia).

● A tooth that is experiencing intrinsic discoloration due to bleeding

● Weak enamel

● Excessive use of fluoride toothpaste or other fluoride supplements

● Using iron drops or other supplements that contain iron (which can lead to the same problem as baby formula)


What can I do to fix this issue?

First of all, we are NOT saying that you shouldn’t be using baby formula, but it could be that a different kind of formula is needed to cut back on the overconsumption of iron (if that’s found to be the cause of your child’s stained teeth).

Regardless of what your child has stained teeth, it’s important to schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist anyways. Children should have their first dental exam by six months of age, if not before!

If you’re in Pennsylvania, then you may be very close to one of our practices. We currently have locations in West Chester, Lionville, and Kennett Square PA.

If you would like to schedule your child’s dental appointment or have any questions, please give our location nearest you a call today!


Schedule Your Child's Appointment Now

Chester County Dentistry for Children provides specialized, comprehensive oral health care for infants, children, and adolescents in a fun, stress-free environment that focuses on prevention and education. Our goal is to help your child be healthy and enter adulthood free of dental diseases and dental fears – with good oral health habits that will last a lifetime.

Make Your Appointment