What Is Enamel Hypoplasia – And How Can Your Dentist Help?

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Teeth are protected by a thin, clear enamel layer, which protects the harder dentin from immediate damage from oral bacteria and acidic foods. Repeated and prolonged exposure to bacteria and acids can start to wear away the enamel layer and cause pits or holes to form that expose the dentin. Sometimes permanent teeth grow in looking as if the enamel has suffered damage. This condition is called enamel hypoplasia.

How can your dentist treat enamel hypoplasia to improve both the strength and cosmetic appearance of your teeth?

Dental Sealant

Minor enamel hypoplasia is often treated with dental sealant. Your dentist will paint a liquid plastic over the affected teeth then allow the plastic to harden. The plastic will essentially form a new enamel layer for the teeth.

Sealant doesn't correct staining or cracking already caused by enamel hypoplasia, but it can prevent further damage. Your dentist will also instruct you to keep up a steady oral healthcare routine to prevent oral bacteria from worsening your enamel damage or loosening the sealant.

Dental Crowns

Do you have highly visible stains and/or cracks due to enamel hypoplasia? Your cosmetic dentist might recommend covering the teeth with dental crowns, which are porcelain caps crafted to fit tightly over your natural teeth.

Crowns can be wholly porcelain if the tooth in question doesn't take on a lot of bite force while chewing. But metal-backed porcelain crowns are more durable for teeth like the molars, which grind and use a lot of force while chewing. The metal is only visible at the bottom of the crown and should easily blend into your gum line.

The exterior of your tooth is sanded down to help the crown adhere to the tooth. However, this and your original enamel damage won't matter since the crown itself forms a new protective layer.

Porcelain Veneers

Enamel hypoplasia can leave your teeth so vulnerable that large cracks, chips, or deep cavities can form. When a tooth has experienced substantial damage but retains a healthy root, dentists often recommend porcelain veneers.

Veneers are similar to advanced versions of a dental crown. Instead of lightly sanding the surface for adhesion, your dentist will carve down the tooth to remove the cracked or chipped areas. A porcelain cap is then crafted and bonded to the front of your tooth to give the look of a healthy, natural tooth.  

Veneers aren't recommended for teeth that take on a lot of bite force since the cap could snap off or the veneer could break.

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