Enamel hypoplasia (EH) and hypomineralisation are two teeth defects that can sometimes get confused. That is because they are both often caused by genetic predispositions and affect the development and enamel of your teeth. Here, we’ll look into the differences, causes and treatments.
Enamel Hypoplasia, Hypomineralisation, And Teeth Effects
Enamel hypomineralisation happens when the mineralisation process is not fully achieved, resulting in discoloured enamel. This condition also weakens the teeth, which means that teeth can break down. The Australian Academy of Pediatric Dentistry also explains that hypomineralisation is prevalent in a fifth of all children. It can appear as discoloured patches of soft or decaying, bumpy enamel that usually affect the molars and incisors as they grow in. Teeth with hypomineralisation are sensitive and can cause children pain when eating; these teeth typically start to deteriorate once they grow in.
On the other hand, enamel hypoplasia is a condition where teeth have pits, grooves, and missing enamel. It can also result in smaller teeth. Hypoplasia appears as brown or yellow stains and exposed dentin. While the enamel is still hard, it is weak. This is a type of amelogenesis imperfecta, where the enamel on teeth is missing or severely thin and prone to breaking.
There are several causes as to how and why these conditions form. According to the Indian Journal of Dentistry, these conditions occur when there is a disturbance in the matrix formation of the teeth. To break that down, let’s look at ameloblasts, which are your teeth’s enamel-producing cells. These cells form in six stages: morphogenetic, organising, formative, maturative, protective, and desmolytic. Enamel hypoplasia happens in the formation stage, resulting in the pitting, grooving, or even total absence of enamel. Hypomineralisation happens in the maturative stage and can appear as “chalky” areas on your tooth’s enamel.
Beyond the scientific processes of enamel formation, these conditions occur due to hereditary and environmental factors. That could mean nutrition, diseases, premature birth, trauma, or infections.
Treatment for these conditions depends on the symptoms. For instance, if you or your child has EH or hypomineralisation but are not experiencing pain or sensitivity, your dental professional may monitor the tooth during routine visits and likely recommend a fluoride toothpaste. However, some children and adults with EH or hypomineralisation might experience cosmetic issues, tooth sensitivity, and an increased risk of decay. That’s why an early dental assessment by your dental professional is critical. If they find either condition, they will likely recommend fluoride applications and remineralising paste to decrease tooth decay. Teeth may also require repair with bonding, filling materials or crowns, and in some extreme cases, extraction. If your child grinds their teeth, your dental professional might recommend a nighttime mouthguard to prevent excessive tooth wear.
All in all, home care is a must. Children need excellent oral hygiene now to keep EH and hypomineralisation under control later. But the best thing to do is to talk with your dental professional to get the right treatment as early as possible, so you or your child can work on having the healthiest, brightest smile possible.