If your child's adult teeth are coming in with an odd-looking, pitted appearance or irregular-looking enamel, he or she may have a condition known as enamel hypoplasia. The outer covering of the teeth, or enamel, can be thin, uneven, and even riddled with holes. Learn more about this frustrating condition, its causes, and the possible treatments available.
What causes enamel hypoplasia?
Enamel hypoplasia has a number of different potential causes:
a fever or infection could have interfered with a critical stage of development
malnutrition due to an inadequate diet in infancy
a Vitamin D deficiency, which interferes with the absorption of calcium
chronic kidney disease or failure
untreated celiac disease
the ingestion of high levels of fluoride (fluorosis)
severe illness on the mother's part during pregnancy
There may be other causes of the condition as well. Dentists aren't entirely sure of all of the possible causes of hypoplasia, but it is estimated that as many as 1 in 5 children aged 7-13 have at least one hypoplastic molar. That makes it a fairly common, if frustrating, condition.
What can be done to treat it?
The treatment options are partially limited by the severity of the condition in your child. If only one or two teeth are affected, there are generally more options than if the condition affects most of his or her adult teeth. In addition, a very mild case may be mostly cosmetic. Other children may experience dental sensitivity and be more susceptible to cavities.
The first order of treatment is to avoid any further erosion. Because the enamel on teeth is largely composed of minerals, acidic foods and drinks can dissolve it and lead to further harm. Children with hypoplasia should avoid sipping fruit juices, sodas, and sports drinks, which can lead to further erosion. Sour candies, which contain high levels of citric acid, should also be avoided. Children with hypoplasia should make an effort to drink mostly water and milk. In order to preserve the enamel that your child has and reduce any sensitivity, your dentist can also prescribe a remineralizing cream and fluoride treatment.
If the condition is severe, your child may have to have crowns placed on some of his or her teeth. If the teeth affected are molars, stainless steel can be used. If the teeth are visible ones, porcelain crowns can be used instead. It's also possible that your dentist may recommend the removal of a badly pitted molar or two–your child may very well be able to do without one or two teeth without any harm. Once your child is older, he or she may opt for additional cosmetic procedures, such as veneers.
For more information on how to deal with this condition, talk to your cosmetic dentist today.