Why Do My Child’s Teeth Have White Spots on Them?

Child smiling with crooked teeth

We can all agree that white teeth are healthy teeth. Generally, those pearly whites are a sign of a healthy smile. However, white spots on teeth might signify a severe problem known as Turner’s Tooth. This condition remains challenging to diagnose, but early intervention is the best way to deal with it.

Join us in this article as we talk more about Turner’s Tooth or Enamel Hypoplasia, how to diagnose it, and what treatments are available to patients with this dental condition.

What is Turner’s Hypoplasia?

Let’s start by quickly reviewing what tooth enamel is. Your teeth’ enamel is the harder, outer protective layer. This layer is made up mostly of mineral-based compounds, and they serve one primary purpose: protecting your teeth.

Turner’s Tooth, also called Enamel Hypoplasia by professionals in the field, is a condition that reduces a tooth’s enamel thickness, increases tooth sensitivity, leaves the affected tooth more susceptible to decay, and results in an unsightly appearance.

It typically affects a patient’s permanent teeth and appears as white or yellow spots on the tooth surface. In some cases, the enamel crown seems to have pits or grooves, and in more extreme cases, whole sections of a patient’s tooth lack enamel.

Because the teeth lose their protective layer, they are at extreme risk of infection, causing considerable pain to the child and possibly resulting in tooth loss from an early age. This condition might indirectly result in developmental complications, such as the inability to speak, bite, and chew well. Premature tooth loss might also result in the development of orthodontic conditions in the child’s teen years, namely: tooth overcrowding. All these factors make it imperative that you find proper dental care for your child as soon as possible

We categorize this condition as follows:

  • Type I hypoplasia: Enamel discoloration due to hypoplasia
  • Type II hypoplasia: Abnormal coalescence due to hypoplasia
  • Type III hypoplasia: Some parts of enamel missing due to hypoplasia
  • Type IV hypoplasia: A combination of the previous three types of hypoplasia.

Causes of Turner’s Tooth in Children

The scientific community has identified two types of Enamel Hypoplasia: hereditary and environmental.

This deficiency in enamel production can be the result of an inherited genetic defect. This condition will generally affect a single tooth, but other cases see considerable damage to multiple teeth at a time.

Environmental cause is a generalized term referring to various conditions that may result in this enamel production deficiency. We can list some of the following environmental factors: premature birth, malnutrition, bacterial and viral infections, or trauma to developing teeth.

Trauma injury to a baby tooth is a prevalent cause of Turner’s Tooth in front teeth. The injured tooth gets pushed into the developing permanent tooth underneath it and interferes with its enamel formation.

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, there are many trauma injury cases in young children ranging from children between ages 2 and 3 whose motor coordination is still developing to teens. Falls are the most common cause of tooth trauma, followed by traffic accidents. Traumatic injuries to baby teeth affect up to 30 percent of children.

Another cause of Enamel Hypoplasia includes viral infection. Some bacteria and viral Infections that cause high fevers, like syphilis, measles, chickenpox, can affect a pregnancy and result in the development of Turner’s Tooth.

Detecting It on Time

Turner’s tooth is a severe condition, but luckily, it usually appears to affect only one tooth. It is vital to adequately manage this condition in its earliest stages to prevent the risk of developing infections and periodontal disease.

Pay attention to your kid’s teeth as early symptoms include lines across the surface of one or multiple teeth. Other children show a significant discoloration of their teeth. And in rarer cases, a child’s entire tooth may have a dark brown discoloration.

If there is a history of Enamel Hypoplasia in your family, you should bring your child to the dentist frequently from an early age. Early interceptive care is the best way to help children who suffer from Turner’s Tooth.

Treatments Available for Turner’s Tooth

There are treatments available to patients depending on the severity of their condition. If it’s a mild case, your pediatric dentist might recommend some degree of maintenance and care to save the affected area and avoid tooth decay.

Other cases will require cosmetic and restorative adjustments. We can restore the affected enamel by bonding a tooth-colored material to the tooth surface, which protects it from wear and sensitivity. For patients who experience tooth sensitivity, fluoride treatments help reduce sensitivity and help prevent cavities. Finally, others might only require bleaching to match the discolored tooth to the rest of the patient’s unaffected teeth.

You can consider a few simple ways to reduce or reverse the environmental causes of enamel hypoplasia. Try to add supplements of Vitamin A or D to your kid’s diet to strengthen developing teeth. Green, leafy vegetables and increased milk consumption for those who can tolerate dairy products can also help.

We would also remind you of the importance of maintaining proper oral hygiene techniques to keep your kid’s teeth healthy.

Trust the Professionals

A pediatric dentist like Dr. Nanna Ariaban has extensive experience helping children face all sorts of dental problems. Please call our office to schedule an appointment if you notice white or yellow spots on your child’s teeth.

The sooner we begin supervising your child’s dental development, the better their dental health will be.