What is hypomineralisation? Hypomineralisation (hypomin), often known as ‘chalky teeth’ is a common condition that affects the enamel of a tooth, usually the first adult molars and the front incisor adult teeth.
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Hypomineralisation effects up to 1 in 6 Australian children
It is a developmental condition that effects up to 1 in 6 Australian children and adolescents and is a result of a reduced amount of minerals within the enamel of a tooth. Unlike decay, hypomineralisation occurs when the tooth is developing within the child’s jaw.
What causes hypomineralisation?
The exact cause of hypomin is still unknown however it is believed that illness during early childhood contributes to developing this condition. This includes, for example, high temperatures and respiratory tract infections. It is important to remember that hypom is not your, or your child’s fault. Diagnosing this enamel problem in children at an early age is key to preventing further, more serious issues in the future.
What does hypomineralisation look like?
In healthy teeth, the enamel is very hard and white but in teeth with hypomin, colours may range from ‘extra white’ through to yellow and brown. The enamel is more porous (like the surface of a sponge or honeycomb) as there is less minerals that make up surface. As a result, this means that these teeth are often:
- More prone to chip away/breakdown
- More prone to developing cavities/decay
- Sensitive/painful to cold and/or hot foods
Why are hypomineralised teeth more prone to decay?
The ‘plaque bugs’ (bacteria) that causes cavities in our teeth can more easily penetrate through the chalky and porous enamel of a hypomin tooth. As the tooth starts to crumble and break down, this bacteria has more places to hide making these teeth even more difficult to keep clean. As these teeth are more likely to be sensitive, children also often avoid brushing these areas which further increases the risk of decay.
If early diagnosis is not made the effects of hypomineralisation can be devastating, as seen here.
Can hypomineralisation be treated?
Yes, it can but early diagnosis is crucial. Treatment for this condition depends on the severity of the individual condition and aims to protect the affected areas, reduce pain, further breakdown and decay. Your dentist or Oral Health Therapist may recommended:
- Desensitising agents such as Tooth Mousse
- Fissure sealants
- Stainless Steel Crowns
- Extractions for more severe cases
Inspiro is committed to detecting issues such as hypomineralisation in children as early as possible to improve long-term outcomes. We do this through dental screenings in our local community. Cathy Imperial, Inspiro Oral health Therapist, talked to us about the issue she finds when checking children’s teeth in the community:
I recently visited a local kinder to teach the kids how to take care of their teeth. Whilst there, I did a basic dental screening for the children. This enables us to spot problems early before they become painful and costly."
Last year Inspiro dentists and oral health therapists checked 2,500 school children's teeth, that's 70,000 teeth!
"Last year, we did basic check-ups for over 2,500 kids in pre-schools and primary schools. It’s always fun to see them play with the giant toothbrushes and sets of teeth that we use to show how to brush their teeth with. My favourite part is singing the songs about teeth care together – it can get loud and is always entertaining!
After each dental screening, we give parents and carers a report with recommendations on the next steps to take. Sometimes that means they don’t need to do anything but in many cases the child will need one or more fillings. On this particular visit, we saw kids with hypomineralisation.”
What you can do at home for your child with hypomineralisation
Encouraging and modelling good oral hygiene practices and providing a well-balanced, healthy diet are two of the best things you can easily implement at home. This should include:
- Encouraging twice daily brushing with a small soft toothbrush
- Supervising brushing and even going over the teeth after your child has had a go. Sometimes it can be difficult to brush young children's teeth. Here are 10 tips for brushing your child's teeth.
- Helping your child floss in between their teeth
- Minimising the amount of sugar consumed in the daily diet such as fruit juices, cordials, soft drinks and sticky sweet snacks such as lollies, roll-ups and muesli bars
- Swapping sweet drinks for water or plain milk
Attending regular dental check ups and talking to your dentist or oral health therapist about any concerns you may have is also encouraged.
Book an appointment with one of our dentists or oral health therapists today by calling 9028 0153
Children who are under 12 years old are eligible for FREE dental treatment at Inspiro Lilydale
If you are a kinder or primary school teacher and would like our dental outreach team to do a dental screening for your class or school, please call us on 9028 0153.
To make an appointment or speak to somebody at Inspiro call 9028 0153
Find out more about Inspiro's health services in Lilydale, Healesville and Belgrave by clicking on the links below:
- Affordable dental and free dental for children
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- Speech therapy for children and adults and occupational therapy
- Free children and family support
- Dietetics and expert nutrition advice.
- Diabetes education
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- Quit smoking and alcohol and drug support groups
- Free in school teeth checks for primary school students
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