Enamel Hypoplasia: Causes, Treatments, and Prevention


Do you have dents in your teeth? Are you sensitive to hot and cold foods? Did you notice white spots on your pearly whites? If so, you may have enamel hypoplasia.

This lifelong dental condition means that the enamel of your teeth isn’t developed enough. Since enamel is the hardest substance in your body, it’s crucial to monitor your teeth and symptoms to catch any problem before they become severe.

Discover what hypoplasia is, what symptoms to look out for, and what treatment options you have in this post.

 What Is Tooth Enamel?

Enamel is the hard, protective covering on the outside of your teeth. Since it’s made of minerals (96% apatite), it’s the hardest part of your body. It’s even stronger than bone. And it’s not sensitive to temperature. Thanks to enamel, you can eat a bowl of hot soup and enjoy ice cream.

However, the enamel isn’t a living organism. It’s incapable of repairing itself if it gets injured or eroded.

Enamel wears away when it comes in contact with acids. That’s why you need to stay away from sugar and acidic foods. Good dental hygiene is crucial to keep your tooth’s enamel healthy.

But eating sugary food or not brushing every day isn’t the only reason some experience loss of enamel.

What Is Enamel Hypoplasia and Hypomineralization?

Enamel hypoplasia is a condition of your tooth enamel. When your baby teeth and adult teeth grow, sometimes the enamel doesn’t fully develop. While this condition is more common among children, adults can also be affected.

Depending on the severity, enamel hypoplasia can look like a small dent in the tooth, or take up several teeth throughout the mouth. It often takes the form of grooves, pits, or lines within teeth, either across the surface or in certain spots. 

This can make the mouth incredibly sensitive, especially for toddlers that are just learning to communicate how they feel.  

Enamel hypomineralization on the other hand happens when the mineralization of your enamel isn’t complete. It presents itself as discolored enamel. People with hypo mineralized enamel are also sensitive to temperature, and their teeth break easily.

Since both enamel hypoplasia and enamel hypomineralization are tooth development conditions that result in similar outcomes, they’re often confused. However, you can easily tell them apart if you look at the symptoms.

What Are the Symptoms of Enamel Hypoplasia?

Knowing the signs of enamel hypoplasia in your children’s dental development can help prevent various dental issues from happening. Some symptoms are clear to see, others are harder to spot.

These are the symptoms of enamel hypoplasia to look out for:

  • Pits, tiny groves, depressions, and fissures in teeth
  • White spots
  • Yellowish-brown stains
  • Sensitivity to heat and cold
  • Lack of tooth contact or irregular bite
  • Susceptibility to acids in food and drink
  • Increased vulnerability to tooth decay and cavities

What Causes Enamel Hypoplasia?

There are three main reasons why enamel hypoplasia happens during your teeth’s development. 

  1. Hereditary conditions
  2. Prenatal development deficiencies
  3. Environmental factors

Hereditary Causes for Enamel Hypoplasia

Certain hereditary conditions can result in enamel hypoplasia. The most common of these is amelogenesis imperfecta or congenital enamel hypoplasia. It affects approximately 1 in 14,000 people in the US. People with this condition also often have unusually small teeth.

However, there are a number of other hereditary conditions that can cause enamel hypoplasia:

  • Usher syndrome
  • Seckel syndrome
  • Ellis-van Creveld syndrome
  • Treacher Collins syndrome
  • Otodental syndrome
  • 22q11 deletion syndrome (velocardiofacial syndrome)

Prenatal Causes for Enamel Hypoplasia

Sometimes, the development of a child’s teeth is determined by the quality of the pregnancy. Certain prenatal conditions and circumstances can lead to enamel hypoplasia. This highlights the importance of necessary prenatal care.

Common prenatal causes for enamel hypoplasia are:

  • Maternal vitamin D deficiency
  • Maternal weight gain
  • Maternal smoking
  • Maternal drug use
  • Lack of prenatal care
  • Premature birth or low birth weight

Environmental Causes for Enamel Hypoplasia

According to the Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, there are a number of illnesses and deficiencies in early childhood that can influence the body’s ability to create a healthy enamel. These can affect the baby teeth, adult teeth, or both.

Some environmental factors of this enamel condition can be:

  • Trauma to the teeth
  • Infection
  • Calcium deficiency
  • Deficiencies of vitamins A, C, or D
  • Jaundice, liver disease
  • Celiac disease
  • Cerebral palsy due to maternal or fetal infection

Treatment Options for Enamel Hypoplasia

The treatment process for enamel hypoplasia varies depending on the severity of the condition and the age of the child. 

For mild cases where the only problem is tooth discoloration, teeth whitening is an effective treatment for enamel hypoplasia. The dentist may bleach affected teeth hydrogen peroxide to match the whiteness of the other healthy teeth.

For more serious enamel hypoplasia where pits and decay is visible, the dentist may recommend drilling and filling. This is a great option if the enamel hypoplasia is only in a small part of the tooth.

If enamel hypoplasia affects the entire tooth, a crown or onlay may be the best option. This is a permanent solution that can resolve the tooth’s sensitivity.

In especially advanced cases of enamel hypoplasia, it may be necessary to remove the tooth. A bridge or a dental implant can replace the tooth and prevent your other teeth from shifting.

Enamel Hypoplasia Prevention

One of the most important factors in treating enamel hypoplasia is catching it early. It's better for the dentist to spot a sensitive area or fill a small cavity early on than to remove the whole tooth due to extensive decay.

Taking Vitamin A and D can also help strengthen developing teeth. Drinking more milk and orange juice, and eating more leafy green vegetables can effectively restore your body’s needs for Vitamins.

If you have enamel hypoplasia, it may be useful to visit the dentist often for dental cleanings. The dents in your teeth are especially comfortable for harmful bacteria. As a result, you’re at risk of cavities. Maintaining good dental hygiene and getting regular dental checkups can prevent further harm to your teeth.

Get Treatment for Enamel Hypoplasia Cheaper

Enamel hypoplasia is a lifelong condition. And you need regular checkups from the dentist to keep your symptoms at bay and your smile beautiful. Unfortunately, going to the dentist can be pricey. Even a dental cleaning can cost over $100. But, you don’t have to pay that much.

You can unlock amazing savings if you have a Carefree Dental Card.

If you treat enamel hypoplasia at participating dentists, the Carefree Dental Card can save you between 15%-50%* per visit in most instances.

Learn more when you sign up for a Carefree Dental Card today!


The Carefree Dental blog is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The text and pictures within the content are intended for information purposes only. Readers should consult with a licensed dentist or healthcare professional before seeking treatment.

The Carefree Dental Card is not insurance and Carefree Dental is not an insurance provider.

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