Enamel hypoplasia (EH) is a defect in tooth enamel that results in less
quantity of enamel than normal.
The defect can be a small pit or dent in the tooth or can be so widespread
that the entire tooth is small and/or mis-shaped. This type of defect may
cause tooth sensitivity, may be unsightly or may be more susceptible to
dental cavities. Some genetic disorders cause all the teeth to have enamel
hypoplasia. EH can occur on any tooth or on multiple teeth. It can appear
white, yellow or brownish in color with a rough or pitted surface. In some
cases, the quality of the enamel is affected as well as the quantity. Environmental and genetic factors that interfere with tooth formation are thought to be responsible for EH. This includes trauma to the teeth and jaws, intubation of premature infants, infections during pregnancy or infancy, poor pre-natal and post-natal nutrition, hypoxia, exposure to toxic chemicals and a variety of hereditary disorders. Frequently, the cause of EH in a particular child is difficult to determine.
Treatment options depend on the severity of the EH on a particular tooth and the symptoms associated with it. The most conservative treatment consists of bonding a tooth colored material to the tooth to protect it from further wear or sensitivity. In some cases, the nature of the enamel prevents formation of an acceptable bond. Less conservative treatment options, but frequently necessary include use of stainless steel crowns, permanent cast crowns or extraction of affected teeth and replacement with a bridge or implant.