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Dental and Oral Health (Children)

Enamel deficiency in children

10/16/2007

Question:

My 7 year old has been told he has enamel deficiency. Apparently this may go back to when he was around 2 years of age. At this time he was prescibed antibiotics on numerous occasions as he was picking up various `bugs` from the crèche he was attending. His milk teeth are fine but his adult back teeth (molars) are badly coroded and will require filling. Is there anything we (his parents) can do for the future? e.g. Diet to improve his enamel. We are very upset for my son as he is only 7 and always took care of his teeth. Many thanks.

Answer:

While we know that some illnesses and medications can adversely affect developing enamel in young children, we also see this defect (hypolasia) occur with no known cause. Many times it is limited to the first permanent molars but, depending on the cause, it can affect other teeth that were developing at the same time.

These irregularities in the enamel surface can put the tooth at higher risk for cavities, so having them restored soon is important. Enamel formation is completed long before teeth erupt, so your efforts should be directed toward preventing further destruction of your child's teeth. Your pediatric dentist can advise you about excellent preventive measures like dental sealants, topical fluoride and a healthy diet.

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Response by:

Dennis J McTigue, DDS Dennis J McTigue, DDS
Professor of Pediatric Dentistry
College of Dentistry
The Ohio State University