When it comes to scapegoats, genetics are one of the best. Whether you’re short, nearsighted, or just uncoordinated, it often can be blamed directly on your genes. However, did you also know that they can affect your teeth? Genetics, along with other environmental factors, can drastically change how both the primary and permanent teeth develop. In some cases, they can even cause conditions known as enamel hypoplasia and enamel hypomineralization. Could these affect your next visit to the dentist near Westfield? Today, we discuss two of the most common dental problems you’ve probably never heard of.
What is Enamel Hypoplasia and Hypomineralization?
If you’re like most people walking around today, you’ve probably never heard of these conditions, which probably means that you don’t have them. This is great, but if you have children, they could still develop them, and here are the main signs you should look for.
Enamel hypoplasia is a defect in which a tooth is physically missing part of its structure. This can make a tooth look like a piece was taken out of it, or sometimes it manifests as deep grooves and pits in the teeth.
In the case of enamel hypomineralization, this is when a tooth has less mineral content than it should. This means a tooth may appear mostly normal, but it will be quite thin and brittle, perhaps even translucent.
With both of these conditions, the teeth can be more sensitive and apt to develop tooth decay and cavities. Plus, since they are much weaker than a fully developed tooth, it is also more likely that they can wear down and eventually break.
What Causes These Conditions?
As we discussed earlier, these can often be the result of genetics, and they both occur while the teeth are developing their separate layers (with enamel being the outermost one). They can also be brought on by factors that impact the metabolic process needed to develop strong tooth enamel. This can include prenatal problems such as maternal smoking, a vitamin D deficiency, or preterm birth. Even certain medicines can cause them, such as antibiotics and tetracycline.
Fortunately, there are many ways to address these conditions. For minor cases, simply brushing with a toothpaste designed for sensitive teeth can help replenish the vital minerals. Dental sealants can be used to protect weakened teeth from plaque and bacteria, and in the case of a tooth that is missing a large portion of itself, a dental crown can replace the lost structure. These conditions can occur across a wide spectrum of severity, so if you or your child are dealing with them, be sure to consult with your Westfield family dentist to determine the best course of treatment.
Genetics Isn’t Everything
Even if genetics has dealt you an unfair hand, when it comes to your teeth, there is always something you can do. Enamel hypoplasia and hypomineralization can be easily controlled with routine oral hygiene and a little extra help from your cosmetic dentist near Westfield. In the end, no matter what a person’s genes might say, everyone can have a beautiful and healthy smile.
About the Author
Dr. Caitlin Mercke is a general, family, and cosmetic dentist based in Marietta, GA. She is a graduate of the University of Louisville School of Dentistry, and she strives every day to provide high-quality dental care in a welcoming and comfortable environment. She currently practices at Elite Dentistry, and if you have any questions about this article, she can be reached through her website or at (770) 587-5655.