What is Enamel Hypoplasia?

When it comes to your oral health, it’s sometimes astonishing to learn just how many dental defects can plague your mouth. Some are preventable and treatable such as minor gum disease, while others can affect your entire mouth and treatments may be lengthy.

Here, Daniel Klein D.D.S. who owns a family dental practice in Pittsford, New York, explains enamel hypolplasia, what could have possibly caused it, and how you can seek treatment for the condition.

What is enamel hypoplasia?

This is a defect that occurs while the teeth are still forming below the gum line, Klein says. What happens is that the minerals which typically make the enamel hard and strong are not combined properly. As a result, the tooth that erupts does not have an adequate amount of enamel. This leaves the tooth looking softer and it often appears to have yellow or brown stains and is chalky in comparison to normal-looking teeth.

What does this mean for your teeth?

In some instances, enamel hypoplasia affects only one tooth, while others find that every tooth in their mouth is affected. The severity of each case differs widely as well. Some teeth just appear to have small dents or pits in them, while other teeth that are affected look small and misshapen. It’s more likely, however, that if you have enamel hypoplasia, your teeth will decay more easily than teeth without this problem, which is a major concern that needs to be addressed.

Why does this occur?

Some cases of enamel hypoplasia are genetic and can affect the entire mouth without any real pattern, while other times the cause is unknown. Researchers have also concluded an infection or high fever during your early childhood could possibly have lead to this defect, Klein explains.

Are treatments available?

In some instances, if the hypoplasia is minimal, then it can be removed by air abrasion. For more serious decay, your dentist will have to restore the teeth using a tooth-colored filling material. And, continues Klein, if severe decay has already taken place, then the tooth may be extracted and a crown or veneer may be used in its place.

How is this different from tetracycline staining?

Tetracycline staining occurs as a result of exposure to this medication when children are young and their teeth are still forming. The dark bands that form are unsightly and usually are difficult to get rid of using bleach, says Klein. But the teeth are still strong and healthy in all respects. They are just not cosmetically appealing.

If you begin bringing your child to the dentist at an young age, then any oral health problems, including enamel hypoplasia, can be detected and properly treated early on.

*Disclaimer: The information on this website is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your healthcare provider. We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with an appropriate healthcare provider.

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