Enamel hypoplasia refers to a medical condition in which your child has a low mineral content in the tooth enamel. This condition can occur in children and adults alike, and it can vary in the degree of severity. It’s identified by discoloration in affected teeth.
Enamel hypoplasia may range from being a simple spot to severely deformed enamel, which can cause the teeth to have a translucent appearance. The spots may appear white, brown or yellow, and they’re most commonly are found on the back molars.
Check It Out Early
If these spots are found on teeth in the back of your child’s mouth, a visit Mila Cohen can help identify if enamel hypoplasia is the problem. Although the condition is most commonly found on molars, it’s possible for the front teeth to show discolored spots too.
Keep in mind it’s not only the amount of enamel on the tooth that protects it, but also the quality of the enamel. The quality of the enamel determines how quickly teeth can become prone to decay and sensitivity.
Because teeth develop at varying times, the severity of enamel hypoplasia can vary across individual teeth and across their positions in the mouth. Some teeth may show only discoloration, while others may have started to exhibit signs of decay. Enamel hypoplasia is not an isolated condition, so unaffected teeth that are touching affected teeth are susceptible to decay.
Causes of Enamel Hypoplasia
Because a number of factors can lead to enamel hypoplasia, it may not be possible for a dentist to pinpoint the actual reason for its occurrence. Enamel hypoplasia can be caused by:
- Trauma to the teeth during development
- Illness during pregnancy — common diseases like measles can lead to enamel hypoplasia
- Toxic chemical exposure
- Lack of oxygen or hypoxia to tissues
- Intubation of prematurely born babies
- Malnutrition in pre-natal or post-natal conditions
- Maternal smoking
- Vitamin D deficiency
Signs of Enamel Hypoplasia
Enamel hypoplasia leads to very specific symptoms. Make an appointment with your dentist if your child experiences any of the following:
- Tooth sensitivity. The thinner the enamel, the more sensitive teeth are towards hot and cold.
- One of the most common signs, discoloration can also be caused by exposure to a high amount of fluoride during tooth development.
- Fissures and pits. The back teeth — such as molars and pre-molars — can erupt with hollows and grooves already in the enamel. Called pits and fissures, they help with the grinding of food. Over time, though, plaque build-up and bacteria can create acids that erode the enamel.
- Thin enamel. This symptom is characterized by a translucent covering on the tooth. Thinner enamel looks different, compared to normal teeth that have no signs of enamel hypoplasia.
Common Problems and Complications
Your children are as likely to suffer from enamel hypoplasia as adults. In minor cases, these common problems usually lead to mostly cosmetic issues. If there’s a significant amount of enamel hypoplasia, it can leave your kids’ teeth unprotected, leading to tooth sensitivity and an increased risk of cavities and decay. Visit your dentist; not only can the dentist make a visual check, but X-rays can confirm the diagnosis.
If your kids grind their teeth at night — in combination with enamel hypoplasia — they can wear their teeth down significantly. If your dentist suspects your child is night grinding, he may recommend the use of a mouth guard to prevent any excessive wear. Grinding and enamel hypoplasia can cause the need for tooth repair by:
Treatments for Enamel Hypoplasia
Your best rated kids dentist can advise you to determine what actions to take. The treatment depends on the degree of enamel hypoplasia present. Enamel hypoplasia is a condition that worsens over time, so it’s important to catch it early. If the hypoplasia shows little or no inclination to decay, your dentist may just advise that you monitor the area while making sure your child practices correct oral health care regularly.
After an exam, your dentist may recommend a special enamel toothpaste for your child’s daily brushing. These toothpastes can help strengthen weakened enamel and eliminate tooth sensitivity. The dentist may request that your kid flosses daily, as well, especially in areas that are prone to tooth decay. At regular check-ups, your dentist will track the condition and let you know if further treatment is required.
If the hypoplasia is visible on front teeth but not causing any complications, some cosmetic treatments can improve the appearance of the teeth. A procedure known as microabrasion is common. The child dentist abrades, or roughens, the surface of the tooth before whitening it. This treatment blends the affected area in with the remainder of the tooth.
For small areas of unevenness or discoloration, another treatment used is tooth bonding. With this technique, small tooth-colored resins are fastened to the teeth. If the enamel hypoplasia is more prominent, your childrens dentist may recommend tooth veneers. If the level of enamel erosion is severe, the kids dentist may recommend applying a sealant, filling the tooth or fitting a crown to protect it from further decay and improve the overall appearance.
Tooth Extraction and Replacement
In extreme cases, tooth extraction and replacement may be necessary. The most common replacements are implants or bridges. An implant, fastened directly into the jawbone, can replace the whole tooth. Bridges consist of a prosthetic tooth that’s supported with a piece of wire or a crown. Bridges also require that the surrounding teeth are strong enough to support the bridge. If enamel hypoplasia has weakened the teeth, a bridge isn’t a viable solution.
Although enamel hypoplasia is initially cosmetic, it can create serious dental issues down the road if not treated properly. The best bet for fighting enamel hypoplasia is early visits to your dentist. The earlier you get a diagnosis, the less invasive the recommended treatment.