What Causes Pits In Teeth Enamel And How To Treat Them?

The teeth are covered by a thin outer covering known as the enamel. This is a hardened shell that is known to be the hardest tissue in the human body. The enamel covers the crown of the tooth, which is the part that is visible above the gums. The enamel is translucent, while the major part of the tooth is made up of dentin, which is the part responsible for giving the tooth its color. Many times certain foods and drinks such as coffee, colas, red wine, cigarettes, can stain the enamel of your teeth. Apart from staining, sometimes pits and fissures may be seen on your teeth, making it a cause for concern. To prevent all these conditions, you should practice a good dental hygiene.

Pits in Teeth Enamel – Enamel Hypoplasia

Pits in Teeth Enamel – Enamel Hypoplasia

Having pits develop in the enamel of your teeth is a condition known as enamel hypoplasia. Also known as Turner’s tooth or even Turner’s hypoplasia, this is a condition that is usually observed in the permanent bicuspid teeth and the permanent central incisors. So, what causes pits in the teeth enamel? Let us find out by understanding more about the enamel itself.

The enamel of our teeth is comprised of 90% mineral content. This mineral is capable of dissolving in any acidic environment. An acidic environment is typically found at the tip or root of any inflamed or infected tooth. This inflammation or infection may occur due to an injury, a cavity affecting the tooth, or even debris left over from food. If the situation occurs in a baby tooth, then when the permanent tooth comes out, it may form with an irregular, roughened or even pitted area visible in the enamel.

As enamel is present even in baby teeth, enamel hypoplasia can, therefore, affect both baby teeth as well as permanent teeth. In a child, enamel hypoplasia becomes apparent before the age of 3 years. The reason this condition is quite common in children is because baby teeth are growing and the enamel in their teeth is still weak and soft. This creates more opportunities for damage to the enamel at an early age.

Enamel hypoplasia affects the enamel of the teeth, making it thinner. This leaves your teeth much more susceptible to dental decay.

Pits on the enamel of your teeth may look like white spots, pits, or even grooves that are visible on the outer surface of the teeth.

Due to the fact that the enamel does not have living cells, it is unable to repair itself. Therefore, if you or your child suffers from enamel hypoplasia, then you need to consult a dentist immediately so that the condition can be monitored. Your dentist will advise you on how to repair the affected areas on the teeth.

Symptoms of Pits in Teeth Enamel

Generally, the first signs of enamel hypoplasia are quite obvious. However, there are some cases where it becomes difficult to detect and diagnose enamel hypoplasia. In such cases, the condition might not get detected till it starts causing major dental issues. When the enamel of your teeth starts thinning, you may notices many or some of these symptoms:

  • Pits in the teeth enamel
  • White spots
  • Tiny groves and fissures
  • Depressions visible on the surface of the teeth
  • Yellow-brownish stains, in some cases even the underlying layer of dentin can become exposed
  • Irregular wearing of teeth due to lack of contact between teeth
  • Increased sensitivity to heat and cold
  • Retention of harmful oral bacteria
  • Increased vulnerability to acid in food and drinks
  • Susceptibility to cavities and tooth decay

What Causes Pits in Teeth Enamel?

Sometimes, pits in the teeth enamel can actually be hereditary. This condition is known as congenital enamel hypoplasia or amelogenesis imperfecta. In hereditary enamel hypoplasia, both the baby’s teeth and the adult teeth become affected. In this condition, the enamel is missing one of its critical developmental phases. There are three phases to enamel development. These include formation, mineralization, and maturation. When there is a defect in the development process, the enamel that forms is brittle and vulnerable to cracks. It also becomes soft and more susceptible to wear and tear. In the case of hereditary enamel hypoplasia, there is no way to prevent the condition from occurring and you will need to treat the tooth as it starts coming up in the baby.

Some other hereditary conditions that can cause pits to form in the enamel of your teeth include:

  • Seckel syndrome
  • Otodental syndrome
  • Usher syndrome
  • Ellis-van Creveld syndrome
  • Treacher Collins syndrome
  • Heimler syndrome
  • Velocardiofacial syndrome

Certain prenatal issues can also cause pits to form on the enamel. These include:

  • Lack of proper prenatal care
  • Maternal drug use or smoking
  • Unchecked maternal weight gain
  • Vitamin D deficiency in the mother
  • Low birth weight or premature birth

Pits in the teeth’s enamel can also result due to environmental factors or some problems, which happen during the infant years. These include:

How to Treat Pits in Teeth Enamel?

It is important that enamel hypoplasia gets diagnosed in time. This is why it is crucial for children to see a dentist either when their first tooth start to appear or by the time of their first birthday. If there is a hereditary condition of enamel hypoplasia present in any of the parents, then all the more it becomes necessary to consult a dentist when the child’s first teeth start to erupt.

Treatment method for enamel hypoplasia depends on the severity of the condition and also on the age of the child. The treatment aims to:

  • Maintain a good and proper bite or chew line
  • Preserve the tooth structure
  • Prevent tooth decay
  • Maintain a healthy and good appearance of teeth

If the defect is minor and is not causing decay, then treatment might not be required immediately. However, the condition will still need to be monitored regularly. Even in case of a minor defect, your dentist will still recommend that you apply a topical fluoride paste that can help prevent further damage and protect the teeth.

If cavities have developed, there is increased sensitivity to heat and cold, or the tooth structure is showing signs of wear and tear then the treatment options would include the following:

Using a Resin-Based Composite Filling – these are made to resemble your tooth color, thus making it ideal for use on even the front teeth. These resins are quite
Using a Resin-Bonded Sealant which helps improve the problem of tooth sensitivity

Getting Dental Amalgam Fillings Done – these are made from a mixture of many durable metals. However, they are silver in color, thus not suitable for the front teeth.

Using Gold Fillings – similar to dental amalgam fillings, these gold fillings are also extremely durable, but they do not provide a natural look. These are also much more expensive as compared to the dental amalgam fillings.

Dental Crowns – these completely cover your entire tooth, giving a natural appearance and prevent any further damage.

Professional Dental Whitening – this process can help provide a better appearance to your teeth, though the problem may still keep coming back

Enamel Microabrasion – a minimally invasive process that can help improve the appearance of your teeth.

In some severe cases, it is possible that the permanent tooth comes up completely malformed, in which case your dentist will probably recommend that you have it extracted. If the tooth needs to be extracted, then your dentist replaces it with a dental implant or a bridge. These dental implants prevent any other teeth from decaying and also from shifting to the gap left by the extracted tooth. This aids in the process of chewing and also prevents a crooked smile.

If there are more visible problems such as pits and decay in the enamel, then your dentist may drill out the entire affected area and then proceed to fill in the cavities. This process also lowers tooth sensitivity and pain.

If The Condition Is Not Treated, Then It May Result In Complications Such As:

  • Staining or browning of an entire tooth
  • Cavities or crumbling of the tooth
  • A tooth may need to be removed altogether
  • Social anxiety due to the appearance of your smile

Therefore, visit your dentist if you feel even the slightest doubt about something being wrong with your teeth to avoid any serious complications in the future.

Prevention of Pits in Teeth Enamel

The key to treating enamel hypoplasia is to catch it at an early stage. In many cases, pits in the teeth enamel are caused by malnutrition. Therefore, increasing the consumption of vitamin A and D in your diet or taking supplements can help strengthening the developing teeth in children. Increasing the consumption of mil, green vegetables, or even orange juice are all recommended by dentists for healthy teeth development.

Some Other Tips To Prevent Pits From Occurring And For Having A Healthy Set Of Teeth Include:

  • Brush at least two times in a day, preferably after 30 minutes of having a meal.
  • Use a soft toothbrush to avoid damage to the gums.
  • Rinse with lukewarm water if you are sensitive to cold.
  • Limit the intake of sugary and acidic foods and drinks. If you are having them, make sure you rinse thoroughly after having them.
  • Visit your dentist regularly for check-ups, particularly if you feel there might be a problem.

It is possible to make enamel hypoplasia with good oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups. Keep monitoring the health of your teeth carefully and remember that treating any potential problem early on can prevent it from developing into a serious problem in the future.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 19, 2019

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