Chalky teeth are a disorder of mineralization: “The teeth are about ten times softer than normal teeth. You can imagine them like honeycombs. These cavities are not empty, but full of proteins that are not not broken down during the formation of enamel”. “This is how Professor Dr. Dr. Norbert Krämer, Director of the Polyclinic for Pediatric Dentistry at the University of Giessen, describes the phenomenon. This means that the teeth also become discolored often, react very sensitively to heat and cold and develop dental caries more frequently. Experts also call the disorder molar incisor hypomineralization, or MIH for short. It affects teeth that mineralize early, even after birth – large first molars are particularly common. “But now we see MIH on all permanent teeth,” says Kramer.
Tooth chalking is becoming more common
According to the 2016 German Oral Health Study, more than a quarter of twelve-year-old children suffer from chalking of the teeth. This means that the proportion in this age group is even higher than in the case of tooth decay. According to Krämer, this study also included other structural damage to teeth in addition to MIH. “There is a lack of reliable national figures specifically for this clinical picture.” According to regional studies, the number of cases is increasing rapidly: in Hesse, for example, the proportion of children with chalk teeth increased by 59% between 2003 and 2015.
Researchers still know little about the causes of chalk teeth. Common respiratory illnesses in the first year of life may play a role, new research suggests
play, which leads to a lack of oxygen in the blood. This in turn influences the formation of tooth enamel. “In this context, antibiotics are often given, which can also be a possible trigger. The administration of anti-labor drugs at birth is also mentioned as a cause,” says Krämer. In addition, a lack of calcium is conceivable as a cause, which doctors have increasingly found in children in recent years. Hormonally active substances such as bisphenol A, which can be found in many plastic objects such as baby pacifiers, plastic dishes or tin cans, are also suspected. Studies on rats have already shown a link with the development of MIH. However, human studies are still lacking.
According to Krämer, further research is needed to clearly clarify the causes and also to make preventive measures possible. “As far as tooth decay is concerned, one thing is clear: avoid sugar, brush your teeth regularly and carefully, apply fluoride. So far, we cannot give any advice on how to avoid tooth decay. limestones,” says Krämer. An unsatisfactory situation, since the disorder can accompany many affected children into adulthood.
Regularly at the dentist
Nevertheless, parents can do something, namely take the first three checks at the dentist, also called FU for short (checks for the early detection of
Children). “In the case of MIH, the FU3 exam is particularly important. Here, I recommend that parents have this appointment made at the end of the recommended period, between
the 30th and 33rd months of life. Then the second milk molars are often already visible. If a mineralization disorder is detected here, the risk of MIH in the permanent teeth is eleven times higher,” says Krämer. In this case, you need a check-up every four to six months, during which the teeth are cleaned and treated with fluoride Prevent tooth decay and closely observe the development of enamel, because as always, the more the If chalk teeth are caught early, the better the chance of treatment preventing permanent damage to the teeth.
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