What is Molar Hypomin (aka Chalky Teeth)
Chalky teeth are teeth that erupt into the mouth soft and discoloured. This is mainly a problem for 6-year-old molars but the condition can affect baby molars too.
Did you know that as many as one in six children are affected by this condition?!
Chalky teeth suffer from a condition known as Molar Hypomin, which is short for Molar Hypomineralisation – a Developmental Dental Defect (D3).
It describes tooth enamel which is soft and porous rather than hard and shiny white. It can affect the amount of enamel and/or the quality. It is a lifelong condition and one that needs to be understood better.
The tooth most prone to Molar Hypomin is the 6 year- old molar also known as the adult or first permanent molar.
This condition renders the tooth susceptible to decay and tooth pain which can prevent children from eating and cleaning their teeth.
The most common sign is chalky creamy spots (creamy-yellow/brown) or extra white patches.
The cause of the condition is unknown, but it is thought that factors during utero or the perinatal period may be involved such as a high fever or other illness.
Molar hypomin is certainly not the fault of the child or parents involved and it is vital that parents are supported through this difficult time when their children will not eat due to pain. It is not uncommon for children to lose weight in severe cases of sensitivity especially when it has been undiagnosed.
Molar hypomin can render the tooth susceptible to decay and too often decay is diagnosed but not the underlying cause which is hypomin.
It is important to make this distinction as normal filling material can fail to adhere to hypomin enamel and the tooth can suffer a further breakdown if it is not supported properly. Moreover, a distinction needs to be made between a healthy tooth becoming decayed and a tooth with hypomin.
For instance, a normal tooth benefits from fluoridation and can be cleaned easily. A tooth with Hypomin may be sensitive to cleaning and does not harden despite exposure to fluoride.
Early presentation to a dentist for examination and hence diagnosis is fundamental if we are to help these children. If left too late, they may become nervous and phobic with even a gentle examination. The use of the air syringe by a dentist who is not familiar with Molar Hypomin may trigger pain in a child and cause them to cry.
Two main forms of Molar Hypomin
There are two main forms of this condition: one that affects the quality of tooth enamel – hypomineralisation, and one that affects the quantity – hypoplasia.
Hypoplasia means that the tooth can erupt into the mouth with the tooth missing! This is really scary to see for any parent and is no wonder some dentists describe these teeth as dodgy, manky, bombed or totally bombed! Added to this, the tooth enamel that is present can be soft, chalky and break easily.
The implications for making a distinction between the two types of this condition are vital as the management can be very different and thus it is important to see a dentist who understands this.
So, should these teeth be even kept in the mouth?
Well, sometimes they should be extracted to allow other healthier teeth in to take their place. However, this decision is based on the assumption that the other teeth will be sound and not also affected. It is important to explore all pathways before a decision is made and to carefully plan any extractions so that the young patient is looked after holistically: their body, their mind, their emotions and the control they feel they have over the process as this will colour their outlook of dental treatment for life. Furthermore, it is imperative to consult your friendly orthodontist like Croydon Orthodontics as the timing for any extractions is crucial.
How Tooth Mousse can help with Molar Hypomin and teeth sensitivity
It is common knowledge that milk and cheese are good for teeth but up until recently, it was unknown why. Due to the research by Professor Eric Reynolds at the University of Melbourne, we understand that casein is the milk protein that is most nourishing and protective of teeth.
Recaldent™ is the trademark name of a naturally occurring protein known as CPP-ACP (casein phosphopeptide-amorphous calcium phosphate). It is found in cow’s milk.
CPP-ACP has also been formulated into a tooth crème called Tooth Mousse that can be applied to teeth with Molar Hypomin to reduce sensitivity as prevent further softening.
Tooth mousse is available through your dentist and is available at selected pharmacies. It comes in a variety of flavours: Mint, Melon, Tutti-Frutti, Strawberry and Vanilla. It can be applied anywhere and anytime.
Tooth Mousse Plus is the same crème but with the addition of fluoride for added protection, especially in non-fluoridated areas like Yarra Glen.
If teeth with Molar Hypomin are affected they can be sealed with Glass-Ionomer Cement which adheres well to the damaged tooth structure. Sometimes an orthodontic band can be placed around the tooth for extra support.
When a tooth is severely damaged by Molar Hypomin a stainless steel crown may need to be placed. This is a metal cap that is placed on the tooth rather like a helmet. It is cemented in place and stays on the tooth for as long as required.
What can you as a parent do to ensure your child receives the best care?
You can take them to a child-friendly dentist at the time their teeth erupt for a screening examination. This will introduce them to the dental practice and have them feel comfortable and accustomed to 6 monthly checks.
Choose a dentist who knows about Molar Hypomin and is educated on how to recognise the early signs and provides the best possible care.
A support group for families affected by Molar Hypomin has been established known as D3. The website contains helpful information and tips on how to cope and valuable strategies for patients, parents and even dentists!
For more information or assistance with chalky teeth or Molar Hypomin, contact Dr. Walsh at Yarra Valley Dental.