Enamel Irregularities

Enamel irregularities are a developmental defect that occurred at the time of tooth development.  The scientific term for these teeth are “hypoplastic” or “hypomineralized”. 

      Hypoplastic means : missing part of the enamel.

      Hypomineralized means:  normal amount of tooth structure but poor quality of enamel - with the tooth being less mineralized and thus more porous.

      Both defects lead to discoloration - yellow, brown, and/or mottled white color.

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      There are over 100 different sources identified as causing this disruption in development- thus finding the actual “cause” is challenging, if not impossible.  Some of the well-known causes include:  infections (ear infections, pneumonia, tonsillitis, etc), high fevers, seizures, nutritional deficiencies, and viral infections - when infections occur, the cells that normally lay down the tooth structure (enamel and dentin) start to lay a less mineralized or less dense enamel, giving it a mottled, yellow/brown, or white fleck appearance.  

      The poorly formed enamel is more prone to breaking down.  The teeth missing enamel can have rough surfaces that lead to increased food impaction and plaque accumulation

      Ultimately these teeth are more prone to developing cavities.

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The severity can vary from mild to severe.

      Mild cases often do not need treatment beyond good home care – keeping the teeth clean, keeping the remaining enamel strong with fluoride and maintaining a healthy diet to limit sugar/acid exposure to the tooth. 

      Severe cases can require more extensive treatment which could include fillings, bonding, veneers and/or crowns.

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