Chalk teeth are not just an aesthetic problem. Rather, it is a disorder in the formation of tooth enamel that causes concern among pediatric dentists and is classified as a new widespread disease due to its severity.
What is the cause and how can chalky teeth be prevented?
Table of contents
What Are Chalk Teeth?
A new widespread disease is making headlines. More and more frequently, children as young as elementary school age are receiving a less than pleasant diagnosis from the dentist. Chalk teeth. This is damage in the tooth enamel, which perspectively leads to the porosity of the permanent teeth.
Tooth decay, tooth fractures and sensitivity to hot and cold are accompanying symptoms of the disease. Yes, chalky teeth are a disease and not a cause due to lack of oral hygiene. Chalk teeth are visually recognizable and are conspicuous by their wavy structure and uneven coloring.
Many Children And Adolescents Suffer From Chalky Teeth
Around one-third of all children up to the age of 12 suffer from this dental disease. The quotient is thus even higher than the diagnosis for caries, which was previously considered the greatest risk for children’s teeth. The risk for chalky teeth is higher because there is no real cause yet and research is still in its infancy.
It’s different from tooth decay, where dentists justifiably say too much sugar and soft drinks. The medical term for chalky teeth is MIH – short for molar incisor hypomineralization, the disorder of mineralization in tooth enamel.
Meanwhile, we know that the risk is higher in young patients whose first teeth already show signs of damage to the primary molars (MMH). You can help your child by attending check-up appointments with the pediatric dentist and following the doctor’s tips.
The Aesthetic View Of The Chalky Tooth
Even before elementary school the first milk teeth fall out and you curiously wait until the first permanent teeth break through. You can find important information about the sequence here. Actually, children’s teeth are snow-white and literally shine. But today the reality is unfortunately different.
Are you one of those parents who are surprised by the yellowing of the new teeth? Although aesthetics is a problem in the long run, it is still a lesser concern. Chalk teeth have several features individually or in combination.
Longitudinal Grooves And Furrows
In most cases, the first signs are visible before the end of the tooth growth phase. The anterior teeth show visible, not infrequently darker grooves. White spots between the grooves are also a symptom that you should not put off a visit to the pediatric dentist if you notice them.
In addition to their appearance, the grooves and furrows pose a health problem. They provide a breeding ground for caries bacteria and promote the destruction of the tooth in childhood.
Teeth Appear Yellow Even As They Grow
Another clearly visible characteristic is the discoloration of the new teeth growing out of the jaw. Here, too, the problem is particularly visible in the large incisors in the anterior region.
The yellowish base color is joined by brown spots that make the tooth look unkempt and bad. A healthy tooth breaks out white from the gum. Attention should be paid to yellowish and dull-looking tooth surfaces. This can and usually will be chalky teeth.
Chalk Teeth Look Porous And Soft
The risk of chalky teeth is accompanied by a visually visible softness of the enamel, which is confirmed in practice. Due to the lack of mineralization, the tooth is porous and not protected by the enamel.
If your children’s teeth appear as if they have a coating, this is an indication of chalky teeth even if the teeth are white.
The Health Consideration Of Chalky Teeth
If you go to the dentist for your first visit as soon as the first baby teeth erupt, you can mitigate the risk.
Even if there is no scientific proof, dentists agree that chalky teeth are caused by synthetic materials. And you already take these in during pregnancy through your food. After birth, your baby gets teething rings and teats made of plastic, which seems to lay the foundation for this widespread disease.
Affected Teeth Are Susceptible To Caries And Brittle
The porous and much too soft enamel increases the susceptibility to caries. Tooth fracture, starting with chipping enamel, is also not uncommon. Even if you do not see any visible signs of chalky teeth, you should react in case of sensitivity to heat and cold.
If your child complains of toothache while brushing, this may indicate increased sensitivity associated with chalky teeth.
Chalk Teeth Are More Dangerous Than Caries
small caries can be reliably and completely removed. The tooth is filled and in perspective, it takes only small damage. The situation with chalky teeth is different. The risk of the disease is based on the impossibility of healing.
You can only prevent it by avoiding the cause and buying as little plastic as possible in the form of packaging and children’s toys. But completely eliminating plastics and plasticizers in plastic is still almost impossible. Even where you don’t suspect it, plastics are present in micro-fine particles.
Core Problem: Melting Disorder Is Not Curable
The classification as a disease is based on the incurability of the enamel formation disorder. Only with extreme care and early prevention can you mitigate the risk and hope that your child will not develop chalk teeth.
The last weeks of your pregnancy and the first four years of the baby’s life seem to be crucial. Some studies suggest that BPA may be a trigger for enamel damage.
Although the cause is not fully understood, there are some theories and thus some ways you can prevent and give your child a tooth-healthy life.
Where Do Chalky Teeth Come From? The Causes At A Glance
As already mentioned in the paragraph above, plastics with plasticizers are definitely a risk. But antibiotics are also suspected, as are frequent medications in infancy. Difficulties, such as lack of oxygen at birth, can also damage teeth long before they erupt.
You are most likely to think of oral hygiene. But exactly this is not suspected at all when it comes to chalky teeth. A lack of dental care or the wrong toothpaste promotes caries and can cause children’s teeth to rot. But there is no connection to chalky teeth.
Are Plastics A Reason For Chalky Teeth?
A large part of our food is packaged in plastic film. This is how plastics get into your body. Ingestion with food is an unavoidable side effect of packaged food.
Even if you carefully remove the film, the food has been in contact with the chemicals and may have minute particles of plastic. Due to the strong suspicion that the plasticizers and other chemicals used soften tooth enamel, you should avoid packaged food, plastic microwave dishes, and plastic food storage containers as much as possible.
Dentists Warn: First Year Of Life Is Crucial For Healthy Teeth
The dental community agrees. Pediatric dentists consider the first year of a child’s life to be a crucial period in the malformation of tooth enamel. This is exactly the time when your baby chews on teething rings and uses the teat, which creates a soothing sensation and helps with falling asleep.
Chewing also provides relief from teething discomfort. But are you encouraging the widespread disease of chalky teeth? It almost seems so, because this disease occurs predominantly and in the strength of the extent in the industrialized countries.
Health: First Teeth And School Teeth Are Connected
In the case of caries, the connection between the infestation of milk teeth and the second teeth have already been proven. Children whose first teeth are already decayed tend to develop the first caries of their permanent teeth by the time they reach elementary school age.
A similar theory is currently being tested in various studies for chalky teeth. If the first year of life is decisive, the theory sounds logical and a connection would be conceivable. The cause of chalky teeth that is under the strongest suspicion remains throughout life.
Only those who live without plastics can take preventive measures against contact with plasticizers and chemicals whose effects have not been fully researched.
The Foundation For Dental Health Is Laid During Pregnancy
The first year of life has already been addressed. The next three years are also important for your child’s dental health. But what do chalky teeth have to do with your pregnancy? You need to know that the development of tooth enamel begins in the womb.
Between the eighth month of pregnancy and the fourth year of the child’s life, dental health is decided. The fact is that chalky teeth are not hereditary and you do not have to worry about this.
One tip: Avoid plastic-packed foods during your pregnancy. If there is a connection, you will reduce the risk for your child even before it is born.
Treat Chalky Teeth In Time
Despite all care and reduction of contact with plastics, your child will have chalky teeth. Treatment in the form of a cure is not possible. But you can stop the progress of the damage by having fissure sealing done in addition to avoiding the cause.
The dentist recommends this measure already for first teeth, which are demonstrably affected. Second teeth with grooves and furrows can also be made durable and protected from fracture damage by a sealant.
The earlier you consult the dentist and have your child examined, the greater the chances of reducing the susceptibility to caries and other subsequent problems of chalky teeth.
What Can You Do?
You can prevent it with all the measures listed. Whether your child gets chalky teeth or not is still out of your control. Avoiding toys with softeners, early teat withdrawal and visits to the dentist from the first milk tooth is effective prophylaxis for healthy teeth.
Children’s toothpaste should definitely contain fluoride, as this substance has been proven to strengthen tooth enamel. Up to four times a year, the dentist advises treating chalky teeth with a highly effective fluoride varnish.
This sealant is applied in the office and has already proven effective in preventing chipped enamel as well as broken teeth.
When Chalky Teeth Can No Longer Be Saved
This circumstance will hardly affect the entire teeth of your child. However, a single tooth with severe damage can certainly pose a challenge. If the tooth structure is lost, it is either filled or, if necessary, treated with a partial or full crown.
If the damage has already spread to the tooth nerves or root, extraction followed by orthodontic gap closure is an option. Even if the thought is not pleasant: you cannot rule out the necessity of it in case of chalky teeth.
In Case Of Unexplained Tooth Discoloration In Childhood, Go To The Dentist Immediately
As a rule, the phenomenon of chalky teeth occurs when the teeth erupt. But even at a later stage, the once brilliant white teeth can suddenly develop yellow to brownish discoloration or grooves.
White spots are more rarely visible. In any case, you must clarify the cause and have the teeth examined by a dentist. Early treatment, for example with a sealant, prevents decayed teeth and in the long term can prevent loss of substance with subsequent tooth loss.
When Is The Latest Time For A Child To See A Dentist For The First Time?
In the past, the first visit to the dentist was customary at kindergarten age. But today, most mothers take their babies to the dentist for the first time when the milk teeth erupt or when the first tooth has erupted.
From this point on, semi-annual check-ups are advisable. An experienced dentist not only sees if your child has chalky teeth. He advises you about the cause, detects caries in its smallest form, and keeps your child’s teeth healthy.
Another advantage: the earlier a child gets used to the dentist, the lower the risk of generalized dental fear occurring later.
Fluoride Against Chalky Teeth – Does It Help?
Fluoride has always been a component of children’s toothpaste. But in the recent past, opinions have been divided as to whether the additive really does anything or whether fluoride can be dispensed with. The fact is that tooth enamel is hardened and thus protected by fluoride-containing toothpastes.
Unfortunately, the substance itself cannot help against chalky teeth. However, it is not advisable to do without it, as can be seen from the recommended fluoride sealants at the pediatric dentist alone. Research is continuing and it is only a matter of time before experts get to the bottom of the causes of chalky teeth.