Enamel dysplasia is a condition that affects the normal levels of one's tooth enamel. A form of exceptionally hard tissue, enamel acts as a protective outer shell to cover the part of the tooth that contains the sensitive pulp, dentin and cementum tissues. The condition is usually caused by hypoplasia, which is the malformation of the tooth enamel; or by enamel that doesn't adequately calcify. It ultimately affects the visible surface areas of the teeth, according to the Journal of Advanced Oral Research.
Patients suffering from this type of dysplasia may produce some very distinct symptoms:
Pits and Fissures - Back teeth such as molars and premolars often erupt complete with grooves and hollows in the enamel. These are called pits and fissures, and their purpose is to help you grind food without damaging your teeth. The hollows become deeper, however, if the enamel is too thin to begin with. Over time, the buildup of plaque and bacteria in the grooves releases acids that eat away at already insufficient enamel – resulting in clear indications of dysplasia.
Thin Enamel Surface - Enamel dysplasia can also be seen in an unusually thin covering on the tooth. If your tooth enamel is thinner than it should be, you're likely to detect a translucent appearance on the surface of the teeth. Tooth enamel can become worn as a result of numerous conditions in adults, but children and teens teeth who have weakened teeth surfaces are more likely to carry some degree of enamel dysplasia.
Discoloration - One of the most common signs of enamel malformation is the discoloration of the tooth's surface. Those with this condition often develop mottling on the outsides of their teeth – an effect that can resemble that of patients who have had rickets. The marks can be white, brown or yellow and result from trauma to the overly thin tooth enamel. It may also come out of fluorosis, which describes the presence of too much fluoride during the development of the teeth.
Hypersensitivity - The thinner the enamel, the less protection your teeth have and the more sensitive they are to heat, cold and other extreme stimuli. A high level of sensitivity is a common symptom of enamel dysplasia, although it can also be caused by other dental conditions as well. Adults can choose dental products that help soothe tooth sensitivity while preserving the enamel they do have, such as Colgate® Sensitive Complete Protection. Younger children may need a different approach to dental hygiene to reduce their dental sensitivity.
Higher Risk of Caries
Patients with dysplasia have a higher tendency to develop cavities and other dental issues. In fact, a study in the Journal of Caries Research showed that about 37 percent of 5-year-old children with hypoplasia had tooth decay compared to 17 percent of their peers without enamel hypoplasia.
If you find your child showing a combination of these symptoms, it's possible he or she has enamel dysplasia or hypoplasia. Discuss treatment options with your dental professional early, so you can take steps to prevent the condition from worsening over time.