It’s All About the Enamel
Did you know that a quarter of children have dental decay by the time they start school?
Parents do their best to avoid tooth decay in their kids – tooth brushing regularly, limiting sugary treats and drinks, using fluoridated water. But despite parents’ best efforts, some children’s teeth are inherently weak and decay more easily.
It was previously thought that only a very small minority of people have this rare genetic condition called amelogenesis imperfecta or enamel malformation. Amelogenesis imperfecta is a disorder of tooth development. It causes teeth to be unusually small, discolored, pitted or grooved, and prone to rapid wear and breakage. Other dental abnormalities are also possible. The condition can affect both baby teeth and adult teeth.
Hypomineralized Second Primary Molars
However, there are recent studies that have reported that up to 14% of preschoolers may have “hypomineralized second primary molars” (or HSPM). It’s a condition where the enamel of the second baby molars doesn’t develop properly, making them weak and prone to damage.
The teeth of children with hypomineralized second primary molars may have white or yellow patches with rough areas where the weak enamel has broken off. Teeth can be so weak that they’re unable to cope with the demands of chewing and break down soon after they come through the gums. They are often highly sensitive and children may avoid brushing them because they hurt. Such sensitivity, combined with the weak enamel, means dental decay occurs more readily.
Dental care for children with these teeth is challenging, the usual anesthetic agents are less effective and treatment is painful. The usual filling materials do not stick to the enamel and they don’t last due to poor enamel quality. These kids need to have dental treatment more often and may contribute to more dental anxiety and phobia. However, if the baby teeth are affected, the adult teeth are also more likely to be affected.
What can be done? A healthy diet and good brushing can help, but precautions are needed. Dentists can detect signs of weak teeth before they break down and help protect these teeth using seals or fillings that cover weak parts. It’s so important to have regular dental visits, starting as early as 12 months of age, or when the teeth first come through.
Prevention is Key in Bellevue
Be sure you bring your children to Overlake Dental for their first dentist visit. It is best to prevent future dental problems.