Enamel Hypoplasia, Hypomineralization and Teeth Effects

Enamel hypoplasia (EH) is a developmental defect that can affect the primary and permanent teeth in one of two ways. It is sometimes identified as a physically missing tooth structure, and can be seen as pits, grooves or just missing parts in the crown of the tooth. Hypomineralzation, on the other hand, is a mere decrease in the mineral content of the enamel. It can be severe enough to give the tooth a translucent appearance or mild enough to maintain its opacity. It is hypomineralization that leads to soft enamel.

How It Forms

Teeth are formed with three highly mineralized and complex tissues: Enamel forms the outer layer of the tooth's crown, with dentin covering the inner layer of both the crown and underlying root. Cementum, another mineralized tissue, covers the dentin to form the inside of this root. The enamel of your tooth is the only visible portion, so although EH can produce developmental defects involving dentin and cementum, they are not usually noticeable at first relative to the case shown below.

Enamel hypoplasia

The Root Cause

In both your primary and permanent set, individual teeth develop at a different times. So there can be a spectrum of severity in the mouth based on teeth that either have enamel hypoplasia or just some minor hypomineralization, both of which raise one's risk for decay.

Because the formation of teeth hinges on genetic coding for proper development, inherited health problems in a small minority of the population can affect the entire dentition with EH. Systemic health issues that alter the metabolic process of enamel development can effect the teeth, as well. These issues include prenatal problems like maternal smoking, vitamin D deficiency and even preterm birth. In the event of a birth infection, diseases like the measles can also cause EH – particularly in the molars, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD). Traditionally helpful chemicals can do the same thing – these include fluoride and the antibiotic tetracycline.

The Problem

Children with EH or hypomineralization can suffer from the same cosmetic issues, tooth sensitivity and increased risk for decay you can. So an early dental evaluation by your dentist or dental hygienist is perfectly appropriate. He or she will recommend fluoride applications, as well as remineralizing paste such as Colgate® Sensitive Prevent & Repair to decrease tooth decay. Teeth may also require repair with bonding, filling materials or crowns, especially if you or your child grinds at night. In this case, a nighttime mouthguard will be necessary to prevent excessive tooth wear.

Ultimately, homecare is a must. Kids need great oral hygiene now to keep EH under control later. With great toothpaste, toothbrushes and rinses, however, this shouldn't be a problem.

Image source: Inside Dentistry

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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Common Conditions During ADULTHOOD

As we get older, dental care for adults is crucial. Here are a few of the conditions to be aware of:

Gum disease – if your home care routine of brushing and flossing has slipped and you have skipped your regular dental cleanings, bacterial plaque and tartar can build up on your teeth. The plaque and tartar, if left untreated, may eventually cause irreparable damage to your jawbone and support structures, and could lead to tooth loss.

Oral cancer – according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, men over the age of 40 have the greatest risk for oral cancer. About approximately 43,000 people will be diagnosed with cancer of the mouth, tongue or throat area, and the ACS estimates that about 7,000 people will die from these cancers. The use of tobacco products and alcohol increases the risk of oral cancer. Most oral cancers are first diagnosed by the dentist during a routine checkup.

Dental fillings break down – fillings have a life expectancy of eight to 10 years. However, they can last 20 years or longer. When the fillings in your mouth start to break down, food and bacteria can get underneath them and can cause decay deep in the tooth.