The new tooth decay? Children and adolescents in particular are increasingly suffering from so-called chalk teeth, also known as molar incisive hypomineralization (MIH) in technical jargon. This disease of the teeth is considered to be comparatively new, but due to its extremely frequent occurrence it can now be described as a widespread disease, says Professor Norbert Krämer, Director of the Polyclinic for Pediatric Dentistry at the University Hospital Gießen and Marburg in Gießen, in an interview with the RHÖN health blog . He says that between 10 and 28 percent of children and young people in Germany are now affected.
Teeth that have been affected by the disease look as if they were affected by caries: yellow-brown in color, sometimes with large defects, as experts call them. Because tooth enamel is soft and porous, chewing can be painful for children. In some cases, entire pieces of the tooth break off. “In severe cases, affected teeth show massive hypersensitivity, especially sensitivity to cold. Sometimes pain occurs when brushing the teeth, which can lead to impaired quality of life in the everyday life of the children concerned, ”says Professor Krämer.
Unfortunately, medicine still knows far too little about the formation of chalk teeth, he says: Experts now assume that various causes are interrelated. For example, it could be problematic if babies and toddlers ingest so-called bisphenols, known among other things as plasticizers from plastics (BPA), through their food. Animal experiments have shown that these chemical compounds severely disrupt the enamel formation of the teeth. An abnormally low calcium content in the blood, a lack of oxygen in the tissues and early respiratory diseases in children are also suspect.
Because of this uncertainty as to the exact reasons for its origin, there is an “urgent need for action to clarify the cause,” says Professor Krämer. There is also an urgent need for further research into an adequate treatment for the affected teeth. “The structure of the enamel of these teeth is porous due to a protein content that is up to 20 times higher, so that they cannot withstand the chewing load due to the lower degree of hardness,” says the expert in pediatric dentistry. The medical care of the teeth shows a high failure rate, among other things due to the problem that the very young children can only work to a limited extent at the dentist due to their pain experience. In addition, the stabilization of the softened tooth structure has proven to be problematic.
Chalk teeth have not yet been cured, but those affected can still be helped: Dentists fill the diseased teeth with ceramic filling materials using an adhesive. This takes away the pain, isolates the tooth nerve – and ensures that the children affected can bite hard again. Otherwise, toothpastes with fluoride also help because they strengthen tooth enamel and effectively prevent tooth decay.
Your expert in pediatric dentistry:
Prof. Dr. Dr. Norbert Kramer
Director of the Polyclinic for Pediatric Dentistry
University Hospital Giessen and Marburg at the Giessen location