If your child loses his or her baby teeth only to have adult teeth grow in with white, brown, or yellow patches, they may have teeth that are hypocalcified. While many dentists are not exactly sure what triggers this condition, it can lead to some abnormal tooth growth and require some special care. In order to remove the discoloration, your child may need some more extensive dental work done after the teeth have reached adult size.
What exactly are hypocalcified teeth?
Every tooth has an external protective layer known as enamel. Usually, enamel is extremely hard– it prevents bacteria from damaging the inner pulp of the teeth. This hardness comes from minerals like calcium phosphate, which make enamel the hardest and most durable substance in your body. When teeth are hypocalcified, these minerals are less concentrated in places, because the enamel has not formed normally due to a lack of ameloblasts. These “patches” of uneven mineralization can lead to discoloration. In severe cases, the patches can also lack the characteristic hardness of enamel, making the tooth more susceptible to decay. Some hypocalcified teeth may also have abnormal shapes or sizes.
Do hypocalcified teeth require special care or treatment?
If you notice that your child has brown or yellow spots on their teeth right when the permanent teeth replace the primary teeth, it’s time to talk to a pediatric dentist. Sometimes, hypocalcification will need a higher level of attention, as soft areas can lead to rapid tooth decay. Other times, the problem may be slight and be more of a cosmetic concern than a dental health problem.
If the spots only affect tooth appearance, the dentist may suggest bleaching, which can improve the appearance of the spots. However, if the discoloration is persistent, the dark-colored areas can be removed and filled. But it’s important to wait to fill or cap discolored teeth until your child is a teenager; teeth continue to grow throughout childhood, so cosmetic correction is most effective after the teeth have reached adult size and shape.
In the case of soft or thin enamel, your dentist may decide to act sooner. Soft or misshapen teeth can make teeth cleaning at home more difficult. If the quality of the enamel is only slightly affected, you dentist may suggest
- limiting acidic foods and sugary treats, especially those that dissolve enamel. Candies like suckers and drinks like sodas should be a very rare part of your child’s diet.
- a strict brushing and flossing routine, as misshapen teeth can be harder to clean.
- a diet rich in calcium, including leafy greens. When the body is deficient in calcium, it will start to break down calcium stored in the teeth, which can further weaken the enamel.
However, if the enamel is too soft to prolong treatment, the dentist will probably suggest removing the problem areas or providing protection for the them until the teeth are large enough to have a permanent treatment. Depending on the size of the calcified area and how badly the tooth is misshapen, you dentist might suggest a stainless steel cap to protect the enamel into teen years. If the soft areas are smaller, fillings can be effective, but they may need to be replaced later. After the teeth have grown, a permanent cap or crown can help prevent further decay into adulthood.
It’s important to note that hypocalcification of any severity can also cause tooth sensitivity– enamel usually protects the more sensitive dentin and pulp of the teeth from intense flavors and temperature changes. Sealing the teeth with resin or capping the teeth can help to alleviate this problem if it majorly affects your child’s ability to enjoy food. For more information, contact a local dental clinic like Dental Associates PC.Read More