Missing Dental Enamel In Children With Genetic Disorders: What Parents Should Know

Children born with certain genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome, may experience some developmental issues with their teeth. The eruption of teeth (both deciduous and permanent) can be delayed or disrupted, with teeth failing to reach their full size, along with issues relating to their alignment. Even when teeth seemingly develop appropriately, the tooth's structure can in fact be compromised. When the protective layer of dental enamel doesn't grow, or when it grows erratically, this is known as enamel hypoplasia. 

Dental Checkups

Enamel hypoplasia can often be observed in children with genetic disorders. In most cases, it will be noted at a regular checkup with your child's pediatric dentist. It presents as a patchy discoloration of teeth with some enamel or the total discoloration of a tooth when enamel is absent. This means the underlying dentin is exposed, making your child's teeth far more vulnerable to decay, as the enamel acts like a shield to keep acidogenic oral bacteria (which contribute to tooth decay) at bay.

Preventing Deterioration 

When your dentist tells you that your child is affected by enamel hypoplasia, action is needed to prevent the deterioration of your child's teeth, which is inevitable if no preventative measures are taken. This treatment can involve different procedures, all working towards a shared end goal. What sort of action is your dentist likely to recommend?

Entirely Missing Enamel

Overcoming enamel hypoplasia is a matter of replacing the missing or deficient dental enamel with a synthetic substitute, which can take a variety of forms, depending on the tooth that requires attention. Molars can benefit from a resin-bonded sealant, creating a secure barrier around the tooth, which takes the place of the missing enamel. Other teeth can require resin-based composite bonding, which involves applying a thin layer of dental resin over the tooth, again creating an artificial barrier that helps to protect the tooth. Dental crowns which fully encase teeth are also an option.

Partially Missing Enamel

When the development of enamel is irregular, as opposed to being entirely absent, localized treatment is more appropriate. This can be as straightforward as applying a dental filling to sections of the teeth that are lacking enamel, allowing the natural enamel across the rest of the tooth to protect these sections.

Untreated enamel hypoplasia can be catastrophic to a person's dental health, but treatment is possible, and is really just a matter of replacing missing enamel with an appropriate synthetic substitute.