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What is Enamel Hypoplasia?

Our teeth are sometimes known as our “pearly whites,” but how do they get that gleaming white hue? It’s from something called tooth enamel – the outer coating of our teeth. Enamel is a porous substance, so sometimes it can be less than white if stained by foods or smoking. Thankfully by brushing our teeth we can keep them as white as possible and protect our tooth enamel from things like cavities from damaging them.

But what happens when our enamel is weak? There is a condition that occurs when adult teeth form called enamel hypoplasia, which is a weakness of the enamel that can either be genetic or environmental. In the case of the environment, enamel hypoplasia can be caused by malnutrition, premature birth, and even by a mother smoking prior to and during pregnancy.

Enamel hypoplasia often results in discolored teeth, which can appear yellow, orange, or brown in spots. It can affect one or many teeth, but it can be treated with crowns or sealants. For those with enamel hypoplasia, it is imperative that the teeth be monitored closely by your dentist. Dr. Mingus can keep a close eye on these weaker spots and alert you if the weakness to your enamel could have cavities forming.

Enamel hypoplasia itself is not painful, however the teeth with enamel hypoplasia could be more sensitive to hot and cold, and more susceptible to painful cavities. This is why brushing the teeth is extremely important, especially for those with enamel hypoplasia.

If you suspect you or your child may have enamel hypoplasia, speak to Dr. Mingus and have the teeth in question examined. Dr. Mingus can recommend a proper course of action for treating these teeth, including sealants (a protective coating that is applied over the affected teeth to help seal the enamel) and crowns, especially if the affected teeth are not getting enough protection from the sealants and are prone to repeated cavities.

While there is no cure for enamel hypoplasia, the treatment options are usually enough to help keep the teeth healthy with the addition of excellent oral hygiene habits.