In this condition, the permanent teeth appear soft and discolored (white, cream, yellow or brown) and sharply bordered against normal enamel. One or up to all four molars may be involved, as well as, the anterior incisors. This criteria separates the diagnosis from a systemic distribution such as fluorosis or amelogenesis imperfecta. It is estimated that 1 in 6 children are affected worldwide and this appearance is present at the eruption of these teeth. Molars are already the most caries-prone teeth but, face more than a 10-fold higher risk of developing decay when severely hypomineralized.
The causes of molar hypomineralization are unknown. However, findings suggest a systemic illness or its treatment that occurred during infancy, is the likely source. Many healthcare providers, unsure of the proper name, term these molars as either hypoplastic or simply just decayed.
All disciplines concerned with oral health do agree that more research needs to be done, but exactly who would be gathering and translating this information, is the question at hand.
So what can you do to help your child who exhibits these molar characteristics?
- Fluoride: in milder forms where sensitivity is the main complaint, applying fluoride varnish every month should help and decrease the chance of enamel breakdown or decay development. If your child can spit, a fluoride mouth rinse may be suggested. If your child is 10 years or older, they could use a prescription double-strength fluoride toothpaste
- Dental exams: routine dental exams will help diagnose a concern and allow your dentist to suggest treatment before your child is in pain or the problem becomes extensive
- Oral hygiene: keeping these teeth as clean as possible and removing plaque accumulation by brushing and flossing daily will be of the utmost importance
- Diet: limiting the amount of sugar in foods, snacks or drinks will decrease the chances of cavities or decay by preventing acid production