Does your child have soft molars? Why does this happen and what can be done?
Human teeth are designed to be incredibly strong – they are the hardest substance in your body! However, there are a number of conditions that affect the appearance and texture of teeth. The most common causes of “soft” or chalky teeth are hypomineralised and hypoplastic enamel. The degree to which these conditions affect teeth can vary greatly. Sometimes only one tooth is affected and other times, several teeth can be.
These are developmental conditions – that means that they occur when the teeth are developing – this can be before your child is even born or in the very early years of life. The exact cause of the conditions is not fully understood at this time. It’s important to understand that neither your child is to blame for the condition, but it is very important to take care of these teeth and seek dental or orthodontic advice about their management.
Hypomineralised or hypoplastic teeth can be discoloured – they can be patchy white, yellow or brown. These teeth are often sensitive and often when they affect back teeth, they often require fillings or more extensive dental treatment. If they affect teeth only to a minor extent, they are easily treated and the story ends there!
But sometimes, teeth can be badly affected and have very weak or missing enamel. These teeth are very prone to decay and breakdown. Your dentist and orthodontist may discuss long-term options with you. The options for such teeth usually involve filling them (this might be a filling or perhaps a crown over the tooth) with a view to maintaining them in the long-term or planning to extract the affected teeth. Your orthodontist will carefully consider which option may be best in the long-term and discuss this with you. If the teeth are best extracted, the timing is carefully planned to ensure the best possible chance for the other teeth to erupt into the best possible position.
What can you do?
- Brush well – though these teeth can sometimes be sensitive, oral hygiene is very important. If the teeth are sensitive to cold, warm water should be used when brushing. A fluoridated toothpaste should be used.
- Diet – limit consuming sugary foods and drinks (including fizzy). These foods promote bacterial growth and can accelerate the decay process, especially in teeth with weakened enamel.
- Visit a dentist or oral health therapist regularly – these teeth may need fillings and the sooner any holes are addressed, the better! Your dentist or oral health therapist will also be able to refer you to an orthodontist at an appropriate age.
- See an orthodontist – to best plan these cases and to achieve the best long-term outcomes, we would ideally see these patients around age 8-9 years.
Do you have any concerns about your child’s teeth? It is better that they see an orthodontist sooner rather than later to ensure the highest chance of achieving the optimal orthodontic result for them. Contact us today to arrange an orthodontic consultation for your child.