Child with hutchinson teeth

Understanding Hutchinson Teeth

New parents often have a list of concerns about their new babies that seems as endless as the day is long. The worries span a lifetime and range from childhood illnesses to being bullied at school to moving to college. One area of concern that may not be at the top of the list is a child's teeth; other than eventually needing braces, that is. Hutchinson teeth is a dental condition that can affect a child, and you might never have heard of it. It results in "peg-shaped teeth having a crescent-shaped notch in the cutting edge" of a tooth, according to Merriam-Webster.

Here's all you need to know about the condition, including its cause, symptoms and treatment options.

Congenital Syphilis

Hutchinson teeth results from being exposed to congenital syphilis while a baby is in utero, notes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Syphilis is a bacterial infection that's typically transmitted through sexual contact, according to the Mayo Clinic. There are five different stages of it: primary, secondary, latent, tertiary and congenital.

Congenital syphilis is when babies born to infected women are infected through the placenta or during the birthing process. Newborns tend not to show any symptoms, but older children may develop deafness, saddle nose or teeth abnormalities. Hutchinson teeth is one of those dental abnormalities.

The Hutchinson Triad

Sir Jonathan Hutchinson was a surgeon and syphilis specialist at the London Hospital who became an authority on eye and skin diseases, according to the Encyclopedia Britannica. Hutchinson discovered three congenital forms of syphilis, called the Hutchinson Triad:

  1. Hutchinson teeth
  2. Interstitial keratitis, a redness and inflammation of the cornea
  3. Labyrinthine disease, an inner ear ailment

Symptoms and Treatment Options

In addition to being peg-shaped and having a crescent-shaped notch, teeth will be smaller and more widely spaced than usual, according to Disease InfoSearch. If you think your child might be afflicted, consult a dentist for a proper diagnosis.

If the dentist concludes that your child does have Hutchinson teeth, the next step is a course of treatment. First and foremost, seek medical help for treating your child's syphilis. A pediatrician visit will certainly be in order. Next up is dealing with the abnormally formed teeth. The National Institutes of Health lists the following options:

  • Dental restorations
  • Crowns
  • Bridges
  • Fillings

Though it's a tired cliche, you don't have anything unless you have your health. That goes for your children too. Be sure to schedule annual physicals with a pediatrician and biannual appointments with a dentist.

To lay a solid foundation for a lifetime of healthy smiles, adopt a daily oral hygiene routine. Brush at least twice each day with a hydrated silica toothpaste like Colgate TotalSF Advanced Deep Clean, which helps prevent plaque and gingivitis while fighting bad breath. Floss regularly as well to reach the spots a toothbrush might miss.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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