Unsightly defects and discolorations found in baby and permanent teeth are a cause of concern for many parents who encounter them. The truth is that nearly 40% of all baby front teeth have some sort of enamel defect that can be seen. These defects are not just about the unsightly appearance. They can cause aesthetic problems and have a higher tendency for dental caries (cavities). The two most common causes of enamel defects are developmental irregularities and minor facial traumas. These can occur before, during, or after birth of the child. Some of the he treatment options for enamel defects in children include aesthetic composite (filling material) veneering and microabrasion.
One example of such a tooth irregularity is the enamel hypoplasia. This condition is a defect in tooth enamel that can result in lesser quantity of enamel than normal. It can appear as a small pit or dent in the tooth. Discoloration of excess white, yellow or brown on the teeth is also a symptom of this condition. When severe, enamel hypoplasia can make the entire tooth appear small and misshaped. Enamel hypoplasia can be seen in both permanent and baby teeth. It can cause tooth sensitivity and lead to dental caries. The inconvenience and potential harm of this situation is what calls for the immediate attention to this problem.
More than 75% of enamel defects in the primary teeth of children are considered to be developmental in nature. Most of these problems can be seen in the middle third of the upper incisors. The location of these defects coincides with the neonatal line. The neonatal line is seen on the facial surface of primary incisors and is thought to be brought about by hypocalcemia during development of these teeth (which takes place in utero). Less than 25% of the defects in the enamel of primary teeth are caused by minor facial pressure or trauma. Such defects mostly manifest themselves as hypoplastic spots on the primary canines. These hypoplastic defects can be a result of perinatal or postnatal minor pressure, which includes the passage through the birth canal. Hypoplastic defects in primary canines are what is known as quantitative defects, which means that they relate to a reduced thickness of enamel.
The choice of dental defects treatment should take into account the child's ability to cooperate during dental treatment. It also depends on how severe the enamel hypoplasia is on the tooth. One option for treating enamel defects is to cover up the unsightly areas with a cosmetic material the same color as the tooth enamel. This may be the best option for very young children because it is less intrusive and easier to conduct. In this technique, the surface of the tooth is covered by a bonded composite resin.
Another option for consideration is the microabrasion. In this case, dental stains and surface defects are removed using a combination of acid and abrasives. Enamel microabrasion is particularly useful in removing superficial enamel demineralization defects and decalcification lesions. It can be used in children as young as six years of age.