What is Enamel Hypoplasia?

Enamel Hypoplasia (EH) is a defect in the tooth enamel that results in less quantity of enamel than normal. The defect can be a small pit or dent in the tooth or can be so widespread that the entire tooth is small and/or misshaped. This type of defect may cause tooth sensitivity, may be unsightly or may be more susceptible to dental cavities. Some genetic disorders cause all of the teeth to have Enamel Hypoplasia.

What Does Enamel Hypoplasia look like?

EH can occur on any tooth or multiple teeth. It can appear white, yellow, brownish in color with a rough or pitted surface. In some cases, the quality of the enamel is affected as well as the quantity.

What Causes EH?

Environmental and genetic factors that interfere with tooth formation are thought to be responsible for EH. This includes trauma to the teeth and jaws, intubation of premature infants, infections during pregnancy or infancy, poor prenatal and postnatal nutrition, hypoxia, exposure to toxic chemicals, and a variety of hereditary disorders. Frequently, the cause of EH in a particular child is difficult to determine.

What are the Treatment Options for EH?

Treatment options depend on the severity of the EH on a particular tooth and the symptoms associated with it. The most conservative treatment consists of bonding a tooth-colored material to the tooth to protect it from further wear or sensitivity. In some cases, the nature of the enamel prevents the formation of an acceptable bond. Less conservative treatment options include the use of Stainless Steel Crowns or an Orthodontic Band that covers/partially covers the tooth. With regards to the adult teeth affected these treatment options would only be until the child is old enough to have a porcelain crown (approx. 18 years of age). This is the last resort and will be discussed with you prior to treatment. In some cases the tooth is so damaged that extraction would be required, your dentist will talk to you about treatment options as far as replacing the tooth or holding the space for future restoration.

In the event that the front teeth are affected, we can use tooth-colored restorative materials to help reduce the minor discoloration/sensitivity, if mild. More severe cases will be assessed on a case by case basis, your dentist will discuss these options with you before treatment. When your child is approx. 18 year old we can permanently restore the teeth with porcelain Veneers or Crowns, which would remove discoloration/sensitivity in severe cases.