Last Updated on June 1, 2023 by Dr Gustavo Assatourians DDS
Dental enamel is the hardest and most resistant substance in the human body, it is the last layer that covers each of the teeth; There are some diseases that cause this layer of the tooth to have less enamel than normal, and this leads to multiple problems in those who present this condition. In this article, you will be able to learn what enamel hypoplasia is. What does it look like? What causes it? How to treat it? and how to prevent it.
What is Enamel Hypoplasia?
It is an alteration in the enamel matrix that occurs during the tooth formation process, causing the amount of enamel produced to be less than usual, all of which occurs before the teeth appear in the mouth.
This condition can affect the first teeth of children, and the permanent teeth of adults.
Dental Enamel Hypoplasia Symptoms
Normally, dental enamel appears translucent and shiny white; When this alteration occurs, depending on the level of severity (mild, moderate, or severe), the following characteristics may be present in the tooth:
- Mild hypoplasia: Small whitish-opaque spots (not cavitated) or yellow-brown spots.
- Moderate hypoplasia: depressions or holes with color change are observed, making the tooth look rough and less smooth than normal., These cavities are known as enamel erosions.
- Severe hypoplasia: The enamel has been completely lost, and the innermost part of the tooth will be observed, which is yellowish in color and is called dentin.
Addition to what is seen clinically, teeth with dental hypoplasia may present the following complications:
- Increased sensitivity: It occurs especially when consuming hot and cold food or drinks.
- Dental caries: Due to the roughness present in the tooth, it is more likely that food remains trapped, bacterial plaque or tartar forms, and carious cavities appear.
- Intense pain and infection: When dental caries are in an advanced state near the dental nerve.
Dental Enamel Hypoplasia Causes
When the special cells that make up tooth enamel, called ameloblasts, are affected during the process of tooth enamel development, tooth hypoplasia occurs.
Regardless of the origin, the lesions in the teeth will look the same for which it will be necessary to carry out – in addition to the clinical examination – a series of questions to determine the most probable reason for the appearance of this enamel defect in each person.
There are multiple causes of this condition that can be divided into two groups: hereditary and environmental.
1. Hereditary factors
- Amelogenesis imperfecta: a congenital alteration of the development of the teeth, which can cause variations in the quantity and quality of dental enamel.
- Complex hereditary diseases such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, Seckel syndrome, and Usher syndrome, among others.
2. Environmental factors
- Low birth weight
- Bacterial or viral infections, such as otitis, respiratory diseases, or urinary tract infections
- Vitamin D deficiency in the mother during pregnancy
- Cigarette habits in the mother during pregnancy
- Trauma to the gum level that affects the tooth germ
- Use of antibiotics such as tetracyclines
- Lack of maternal prenatal care
Enamel Hypoplasia Treatment
Treatment will depend on the severity of dental injuries.
- Mild Hypoplasia: Both in children and adults, follow-up and oral hygiene reinforcements can be done, focusing on avoiding complications. Specifically, in adults, dental whitening can also be used in case the stains present on the teeth affect them aesthetically.
- Moderate hypoplasia: If the holes in the teeth are small in both children and adults, it is recommended to cover those areas with no enamel with sealants, adhesive, or resin.
- Severe hypoplasia: In cases where the holes in the teeth are very large, you can also cover the entire tooth with crowns. In children, metallic crowns will be placed while in adults porcelain, metal-porcelain crowns, or veneers can be placed.
Performing any of these treatments will protect the internal tissues of the tooth, decreasing dental sensitivity, increasing resistance, improving aesthetics, color, and shape of the tooth, and preventing the appearance or advancement of dental caries.
Finally, in very severe cases when it is not possible to carry out restoration, the indication will be to extract the tooth. In adults, it can be replaced with a prosthesis or a dental implant while in children, depending upon their age, clinical and radiographic monitoring should be done during the eruption of the permanent teeth. In some cases, an appliance can be placed to maintain space while the new teeth are coming in.
It should be taken into account that in some cases, a single treatment is not ideal and multiple interventions or combined treatments must be performed to achieve greater efficacy.
Is Enamel Hypoplasia Prevention Possible?
In most cases, it is not possible to prevent it, but you can reinforce dental enamel care through good oral habits, such as:
- During pregnancy and after delivery, the mother should eat healthy foods that provide the vitamins and minerals the baby needs for optimal development; fruits, vegetables, and vitamin supplements.
- Child’s diet: The child’s diet should be rich in vitamins A, D, and calcium. Children must eat foods like milk, orange juice, and vegetables, which will help strengthen their teeth. They should avoid eating sugary and acidic foods, or if they must eat them, they should brush their teeth as soon as possible to reduce the risk of dental caries.
- Oral hygiene: The mother must clean her baby’s gums before the first tooth appears in the mouth, thus avoiding the appearance of infections or diseases that may affect the dental germ of the developing teeth.
Those who present enamel hypoplasia, whether adults or children, must maintain excellent oral hygiene such as toothpaste, toothbrush, dental floss, and mouthwash. In addition, attend dental consultations regularly to evaluate the evolution of hypoplastic lesions and carry out reinforcements and treatments as necessary.
If you take the habit of doing continuous checkups, you will reduce the discomfort and complications caused by this condition such as sensitivity, pain, and dental cavities, among others. And you will be able to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
If you have any questions about this or other topics, you can contact us at Channel Islands Family Dental as well as our page on Facebook. We look forward to your visit and we will make a timely diagnosis. Our dentists in Oxnard, Santa Paula, Ventura, Newbury Park, and Port Hueneme will be able to guide you toward the best treatment to take care of your health and give you back your best smile.
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