Enamel Hypoplasia is a condition involving deficiency in the tooth enamel. It makes the teeth more susceptible to decay or damage. It appears as lines, grooves and pits in the teeth, or on their surface. In severe cases, it can manifest itself as a miniature dent within a tooth, and may cause discoloration which results in the tooth becoming brown. When this occurs the tooth will become extremely sensitive, particularly for young children. To truly understand this condition however, you must first understand enamel and the role it plays in dental health.
What Is The Purpose Of Tooth Enamel?
Enamel is a tough outer covering which resides on the external portion of the teeth. Its main purpose is to protect them, kind of a like a turtle is protected by its shell. In fact, tooth enamel is the hardest area of the human body. Your tooth enamel is the reason you’re able to enjoy hot or cold foods without pain and sensitivity. It also allows you to eat foods which are hard.
However, like any protective shell or suit of armor, tooth enamel has its weaknesses. For one, it is almost completely comprised of mineral, which means that it is vulnerable to anything acidic. This means that those who regularly drink acidic beverages such as soda, or eat certain candies or fruit will have the bacteria in their mouths become lactic acid, which will wear down their enamel. Once tooth enamel disappears completely, it can never regrow, which is the reason dentists educate their patients to limit their intake of certain foods and drinks. You want your enamel to last as long as possible.
However, the erosion of enamel doesn’t always result from the foods or drinks we consume. Some people, both children and adults, are naturally deficient in the amount of enamel which is present on their teeth, and this is the condition which is referred to as Enamel Hypoplasia. This affliction can be hereditary, and may be displayed by toddlers and children under the age of three.
How This Condition Can Be Treated
The treatment approach for this condition is dependent on its severity, as well as the age of the patient. For mild cases where the patient is experiencing mostly tooth discoloration, hydrogen peroxide may be applied, but generally, those who have this condition are not eligible for most forms of tooth whitening, especially if they are children.
For severe cases, where the tooth of the patient displays pits or deterioration, the dentist will usually drill the afflicted location, after which the cavities will be filled in. This lowers pain and discomfort when the condition in present in a small tooth region, but won’t be sufficient should the whole tooth be compromised. In this scenario the dentist will add either an onlay or crown. The goal of these oral implants is to stop the surrounding teeth from moving and to close the gap so that the patient can chew comfortably while displaying a normal smile.