Having a beautiful set of teeth after drug addiction

Inadequate Enamel: When Your Child Is Diagnosed With Enamel Hypoplasia

by Danielle Fletcher

Having patchy, inconsistent or generally deficient dental enamel is a condition known as enamel hypoplasia. As a parent, don't be disappointed in yourself if your family dentist points out that your child is affected by enamel hypoplasia. It's quite inconspicuous, and it's difficult for anyone other than a dental professional to notice the condition, which is usually first identified in childhood after the permanent teeth have erupted. But is some missing or impaired enamel a big deal?

A Natural Shield

Consider it this way: at the time of diagnosis, your child's enamel hypoplasia is unlikely to be causing significant problems. However, if untreated, it's practically inevitable that your child's teeth will be adversely affected. Dental enamel is the tooth's natural shield, preventing it from the acidic and corrosive components of your diet while keeping cariogenic bacteria (oral microorganisms which contribute to cavity formation) at bay. When this protection is weak (or entirely absent), teeth are far more vulnerable to deterioration, ranging from cavities to the total loss of the tooth. 

Understanding the Cause

There's an abundance of possible causes for enamel hypoplasia. Some of these are hereditary and can be linked to certain inherited medical conditions. Others are more direct, environmental causes, including illness and trauma in infancy and nutritional deficiencies. If the condition which has resulted in your child's enamel hypoplasia is a mystery, you may want to see your family doctor to investigate further. Your family dentist will be able to fortify your child's enamel, which is generally all that's needed to address the condition.

The Extent of the Problem 

Treatment really depends on the extent of the problem. Hypoplasia can be limited to isolated teeth (or even a single tooth). It might be confined to the upper or lower dental arch, or it might affect all teeth to some degree. A versatile approach, utilising different forms of treatment, might be the best way forward.

Different Treatment Options

The goal is to replace missing or deficient enamel with an artificial substitute that will serve the same purpose. This can be as simple as a sealant (transparent resin applied to the teeth). Dental bonding is also a practical choice, and this is the same material used to fill cavities, only applied to the surface of the tooth to form a shell. Dental crowns encompassing the entire tooth is also an option. These options are all intended to look like natural enamel. Additional treatments may be occasionally needed as your child grows. 

Enamel hypoplasia robs the teeth of their most valuable defence, and treatment is all about restoring that defence with an effective substitute. Reach out to a dentist to learn more.