Questions And Answers About Enamel Hypoplasia

Questions And Answers About Enamel Hypoplasia
Posted on 04/14/2023

Little-boy-brushing-teethThe hard, white outer layer of your teeth known as enamel serves as the teeth's first line of defense against bacteria and decay. Unfortunately, some children may have trouble maintaining this protective layer despite their best efforts. In many cases, the problem lies in a developmental problem called enamel hypoplasia.

As a concerned parent, you'll want to understand as much as you can about enamel hypoplasia, from its causes and effects to the most effective strategies for keeping your child's teeth as strong as possible. Sink your teeth into the following questions and answers about this potentially destructive condition.

What Does Enamel Hypoplasia Involve?

Enamel hypoplasia involves a defect in the way the teeth form enamel. Although people of any age can suffer from thin or weak enamel, enamel hypoplasia occurs exclusively during early childhood. Baby teeth may display hypoplasia from the moment they first erupt, while permanent teeth develop it during the first few years of life.

In some cases, enamel hypoplasia causes teeth to erupt with no enamel on them at all. In others, the enamel appears noticeably thin, ridged, or pitted. You may notice white spots on the affected teeth. Teeth can also appear yellowish because the darker color of the underlying dentin shows through the thin enamel.

Why Do Children Experience Enamel Hypoplasia?

Children may experience enamel hypoplasia due to either genetic predisposition or environmental triggers. In the inherited form of the disorder, faulty genetic instructions cause the cells that form the enamel matrix to malfunction. It may occur alongside other genetic conditions such as Usher syndrome or Treacher Collins syndrome.

Environmental or acquired enamel hypoplasia can develop for many reasons. Factors that may encourage the problem include low birth weight, vitamin deficiencies, tooth trauma, infections, and liver or celiac disease. Malnutrition, smoking, drug use, or lack of proper care during pregnancy can also affect prenatal enamel development.

What Problems Can Enamel Hypoplasia Cause?

The potential issues associated with enamel hypoplasia extend beyond the mere cosmetic. For instance, a child with weak tooth enamel may experience acute pain when their teeth encounter heat, cold, or pressure. The thin enamel passes more of those sensations to the sensitive nerve tissue inside the teeth.

Enamel hypoplasia also promotes tooth decay. The thinner the enamel layer, the more easily bacteria can carve cavities through the material and invade the deeper levels of the teeth. Untreated, these cavities can lead to serious dental infections and jaw abscesses.

Teeth with weak or thin enamel can wear down faster than normal teeth. Everyday tooth-on-tooth contact that would cause only minimal enamel loss can do serious damage to teeth with enamel hypoplasia. Unconscious tooth grinding and consumption of acidic foods or beverages can make this deterioration even worse.

How Do Pediatric Dentists Address Enamel Hypoplasia?

If your child has enamel hypoplasia, your pediatric dentist's response will depend in part on the seriousness of the problem. In the mildest form of the condition, kids may need nothing more than extra help brushing and flossing as carefully and thoroughly as possible.

Children with enamel hypoplasia must stick to a regular schedule of regular exams and cleanings. Since their teeth face elevated risks for decay and damage, the dentist needs to monitor their status, start any necessary treatment as early as possible, and perform professional cleanings to remove plaque and tartar.

Dental sealants can help protect children's teeth against acids, bacteria, and other destructive agents. They may prove especially helpful for kids who struggle with enamel hypoplasia. Dentists typically add these shield-like plastic coatings to the rear molars, providing years of protection for these hard-to-clean areas.

If your child's permanent teeth suffer from thin enamel and ugly discoloration, restorations can protect those tooth surfaces while also beautifying them. Permanent crowns cover the entire visible part of the tooth, adding strength to weakened teeth and serving as a kind of secondary enamel layer that bacteria and acids can't penetrate.

How Can Parents Help Kids With Enamel Hypoplasia?

The same basic home dental hygiene that matters so much for all children and adults takes on special importance when dealing with enamel hypoplasia. Make sure your child brushes and flosses twice a day with fluoride toothpaste. Ask your pediatric dentist whether adding regular use of a fluoride rinse to their oral routine would provide additional protection.

Good nutrition can help support the health of your child's tooth enamel. Feed your child a balanced diet, including a full array of vitamins and plenty of calcium to support enamel remineralization or repair. Kids with enamel hypoplasia should make a special effort to stay away from acidic foods and beverages.

As noted above, tooth grinding can easily damage thin enamel. If your pediatric dentist diagnoses this issue, a custom-fitted night guard can help protect your child's teeth. Make sure your child wears this night guard regularly.

If you think your child might suffer from enamel hypoplasia, Dentistry for Children & Adolescents can monitor your child's dental condition and recommend the right treatment schedule and home dental hygiene strategies. Contact our pediatric dental clinic today to schedule an appointment for your little one.


Dentistry for Children & Adolescents

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  • Eden Prairie Office - 6385 Old Shady Oak Road, Suite 150, Eden Prairie , MN 55344 Phone: 952-932-0920

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