For both children and adults alike, a vital area of oral care revolves around tooth enamel. Important for protecting the outer surface of teeth from several potential risks, enamel unfortunately doesn’t always develop properly in children, leading to potential vulnerabilities like tooth decay, stress fractures and others.
At Southridge Pediatric Dentistry, we’re proud to offer numerous children’s dentist services, from basic cleanings to sedation dentistry and many areas in between. We’ve helped numerous kids and their parents understand why enamel is important and how to protect it, including in cases where children have specific enamel issues at play. This two-part blog series will go over everything you need to know about enamel and why it matters, the conditions that may affect children in this area, and how to prevent or treat such issues.
Purpose of Enamel in Child Teeth
Both for children and adults, enamel is among the first lines of defense for the exterior of teeth. It protects against a variety of potential threats, from long-term wear-down risks to immediate impacts and several others.
Unfortunately, this protection isn’t always adequate for all children. When enamel conditions, which we’ll go over momentarily, are present, kids may develop missing or weak permanent teeth, improper enamel or even pits or holes in the teeth. These complications can begin while the child is still in utero with the mother in some cases, or may take place due to poor habits and other risks once they’re in the world.
The first such condition is known as mottled enamel, or weak enamel in young children. Mottled enamel can lead to weak, missing or improperly-formed enamel on teeth, due to damage to certain cells meant to develop in these areas. Some of the causes of mottled enamel include:
- Mother’s diet during pregnancy
- History of high fevers or febrile seizures
- Certain developmental conditions
- Unsupervised consumption of fluoride toothpaste or rinse
- Too much fluoridation in water
Enamel Hypoplasia and Others
Unfortunately, mottled enamel is not the only enamel-related condition that may impact children. Another is known as enamel hypoplasia, a disorder where the teeth develop thin, inefficient enamel or even sometimes pits or holes in teeth. Extreme cases may see no enamel whatsoever, exposing the inner surfaces of the tooth. The primary effect of this condition is tooth decay, but it can also create major tooth sensitivity and higher risk of fracture.
Finally, another defect is called enamel hypomineralization, which refers to enamel that’s too soft and is damaged too easily. It generally occurs in response to fluorosis, or an excessive exposure to fluoride that leads to major discoloration.
For more on tooth enamel and related conditions in children, or to learn about any of our pediatric dental services, speak to the staff at Southridge Pediatric Dentistry today.