Dental decay is a very common problem in infants and young children, and many parents underestimate the importance of healthy baby teeth.
Now, recent Australian studies have revealed that as much as 14 percent of pre-schoolers may have what is known as hypomineralised second primary molars (HSPM), a condition in which the enamel of the second baby molars doesn’t develop as it should, leaving the teeth weak and more prone to damage than normal.
What are the implications for children?
Children with HSPM may have such weak enamel that pieces of it can break off, leaving teeth too weak to chew properly. In some cases, weak teeth may even break down soon after erupting through the gums, causing sensitivity and pain. The combination of weak enamel and sensitivity tends to increase the risk of dental decay.
What causes this issue?
The enamel of the teeth forms even before the teeth erupt through the gums, while the baby molars actually start to develop before birth. Research suggests that HSPM may be caused by factors that occur during pregnancy and birth, and the condition has been linked with smoking and alcohol use during pregnancy, as well as maternal illness. Because tooth enamel is unable to naturally heal, any damage that is done during the developmental stage will still be present when the teeth erupt (at around the time your child reaches two years old).
Although it is recommended that children come in for a dental check-up as soon as their first teeth erupt, many parents delay dental visits until much later. This means that, in many cases, problematic teeth are only identified when they have already broken down or become infected.
How can it be treated?
If your child has particularly weak enamel, it’s important that they stick to a healthy diet and practice good oral hygiene. That said, it’s a good idea to take extra precautions and bring them in for regular dental check-ups. By examining your child’s teeth, we can pick up on any signs of weak teeth before they actually break down, and recommend treatments to restore and strengthen weak areas.
We highly recommend that you bring your child in for dental visits from a young age. Their baby teeth are very important in the future development of their mouth and overall health. If we notice any issues, we will provide care in a safe and comforting environment.
If you would like to arrange a consultation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.