Enamel hypoplasia is a term that denotes incomplete or underdeveloped tooth enamel. But first, what exactly is enamel? It’s the hard, protective layer covering the outside of your teeth. Essentially, the “white part” of your teeth is your enamel, made up of mostly mineral-based compounds that your body creates to form your teeth.
Sometimes, when enamel is forming in the mouth, different factors can cause a “glitch” in the process, leaving areas of the enamel at sub-optimal levels of strength. This can be seen in the form of lines across the surface of one or multiple teeth or can manifest as a discoloration on the teeth. In rarer cases, the entire tooth may have a dark brown discoloration.
There are two types of enamel hypoplasia: hereditary enamel hypoplasia and environmental enamel hypoplasia, each with their own causes.
As you’d expect, hereditary enamel hypoplasia occurs due to an inherited genetic defect that impacts the formation of the teeth in the mouth. Ideally this only affects a small region of a single tooth, but in more serious cases multiple teeth are affected.
Enamel hypoplasia caused by environmental factors carries the same symptoms as hereditary enamel hypoplasia, but can be caused by a variety of factors, such as premature birth, malnutrition, bacterial and viral infections, or trauma to newly developing teeth and mouth.
Treatment for enamel hypoplasia generally depends on the severity of the condition. In milder cases, dentists may recommend normal maintenance and care with special attention given to the affected area to avoid tooth decay. Some cases may require cosmetic adjustments such as bleaching to match the discolored tooth to the whiter, unaffected teeth. For more serious conditions, your dentist may recommend a sealant, filling or crown.
If you suspect that you or someone in your family may have enamel hypoplasia, make an appointment with a dentist immediately. The earlier that enamel hypoplasia is detected, the more effectively it can be treated.
Although nothing can be done to prevent hereditary enamel hypoplasia, there are a few simple ways to reduce or reverse the environmental causes of enamel hypoplasia. Adding supplements of Vitamin A or D to your diet can help to strengthen developing teeth. Green, leafy vegetables and increased consumption of milk can also help.
Discover MoreCan You Restore Tooth Enamel Naturally?