Imagine that you're cheerfully trying to guide your toddler through the process of learning to eat a wide variety of foods, but you notice your child's teeth are staining immediately and even chipping away during normal chewing. Your child's baby teeth may not feature a strong enough layer of enamel. Without a thick and healthy enamel layer, your child's oral health is at risk. Find out how to spot this problem and treat it before further issues set in.
Signs of Insufficient Enamel
Of course, you don't know for sure that your child is facing an enamel crisis until a pediatric dentist diagnoses the problem. If you're wondering if an appointment at the dentist's office is necessary, look for these early and common signs of missing enamel:
- Chalky and powdery spots on the teeth, showing a white, brown, gray, or yellow color
- Sensitivity complaints from the child while eating ice cream or sipping hot cocoa
- A pitted or cracking tooth surface
- Damage to the tooth, in the form of chipping and cracking, during normal chewing
- Excessive cavity development and faster deterioration of decaying areas.
Problems Caused by Missing Enamel
Missing enamel causes aesthetic issues first and foremost, but kids with little to no enamel face far more problems than just an unattractive smile. The damage done by crumbling dentin and numerous cavities threaten your child's overall health and make it hard for them to socialize properly and develop good eating habits. If a baby tooth comes out early due to decay, the gap for the adult tooth can close up and create an overcrowded jaw as your child grows up.
Causes of Enamel Issues
In adults and older children, enamel is usually lost due to poor brushing habits and over-consumption of acidic and rough foods that wear away that protective layer. However, it's not entirely known why toddlers grow in sets of baby teeth with little to no enamel covering them. Recent research shows links between missing enamel and
- Trauma caused during pregnancy or birth, such as pressure on the face as the baby moves through the birth canal
- Illnesses of the mother or physical trauma while the embryo is developing
- Sickness and injury during early childhood
- Malnutrition of the mother or child
- Genetic predispositions to weak or missing enamel
- Drug use by the mother during pregnancy.
Of course, you can't prevent any of these problems by waiting until you notice a toddler tooth problem. You can only treat the problem and prevent further enamel erosion.
Options For Treating the Problem
Prompt treatment is the best way to keep missing enamel from impacting your child's health and development. A pediatric dentist can coat the teeth with fluoride and minerals to mimic the protective power of natural enamel. Buffing the teeth and coating the stained spots in composite resin creates an evenly colored tooth that is also stronger and more stable.
If the damage is severe enough, only capping will keep the roots intact long enough for the adult teeth to grow in and replace them. The dentist has more options for stabilization if you visit at the first sign of missing enamel instead of waiting to see what happens.
Preventing Future Enamel Loss
Even if your toddler is only missing one small spot of enamel coverage, that protective layer can still disappear over time unless you take care of it. Teach your child to rinse their mouth out with water after eating an acidic or sugary snack, since the bacteria that feed on sugar can create their own enamel damaging acids. Proper brushing and flossing is also essential along with the use of a fluoride mouth rinse designed for children.
For more information, contact a professional pediatric dentist such as those at Kids First Pediatric Dentistry.