How Childhood Illnesses May Impact Your Adult Teeth

In the vast majority of cases, children's permanent teeth grow in with few issues either structurally or cosmetically. But if you or your child suffered from a common illness such as measles or chickenpox during the first few years of life, it may have had long-lasting consequences for your dental health. Both of these illnesses have been associated with a greater risk for enamel disorders like hypoplasia and hypomineralization, which can lead to increased tooth decay and detract from the appearance of teeth. If you have recently been diagnosed with an enamel disorder caused by a childhood illness, or if your own child is currently ill, read on to learn more about these conditions and their treatment. 

Identifying Hypoplastic Teeth

Enamel hypoplasia is the less serious of these two disorders, since it only affects the surface of the teeth. It occurs when the enamel surrounding the rest of your teeth is thin and brittle, often involving dents and tiny, porous gaps on the surface of the tooth. Hypoplasia is typically recognized by hypersensitivity to hot or cold drinks and visible signs of a dysfunctional enamel structure, such as the small holes mentioned previously. Your teeth may be patched with different levels of opacity, resulting in yellow and white splotches. 

Recognizing Hypomineralized Teeth

Hypoplasia occurs when your permanent teeth are first growing, caused by errors in your genetic code or a deficiency in certain minerals. Less severe cases lead to hypoplasia, but sustained errors may leave you with teeth that have soft, incomplete enamel that is especially prone to cavities and fractures. Hypomineralized teeth will begin to break down if left untreated, which is another reason why it is important to visit your dentist regularly. When ignored, hypomineralized teeth will often end up falling out or decaying rapidly. 

Managing Tooth Disorders Caused by Earlier Illness

The exact reason why diseases like measles and chicken pox increase your chances of these illnesses is still unclear. It may be the result of the viruses lingering within your system; chicken pox, for example, is infamous for re-emerging decades later as shingles. It may also be the result of mineral deficiencies caused by the diseases while your teeth happen to be forming. No matter what the actual cause, both of these disorders should be treated promptly by a dentist to avoid further damage to your teeth. Dentistry treatment options frequently include the use of resin coatings, which act as a false enamel and can be used to hide discolorations. By recognizing your or your child's increased risk for an enamel disorder, you may be able to take quick action and save your teeth from both deterioration and the discomfort of hypersensitivity.