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Why Do Teeth Lack Enamel?

Your enamel is the outer layer of the teeth. It serves as the first defense against oral attackers. Whether it’s the acid from oral bacteria, chemicals from a particular food, or the impact from your regular biting habits, your enamel keeps your teeth safe from the effects. And since it’s the hardest substance in the body, it can take on a fair amount of damage without a visible change in appearance. But what if your teeth lack enamel? And what can you do about it?

Fortunately, it’s not a widespread case. For the most part, a majority of us grow teeth with well-developed enamel. Typically, the only thing that would impact your enamel at this stage is in the food you eat or the way your teeth clash together. However, some people don’t have the sufficient amount of enamel on their teeth. This lack can pose a threat to their oral health.

What, then, can be done of the teeth lack enamel? And why does it happen in the first place?

The lack of enamel can be a developmental problem

In some instances, the lack of enamel arises from developmental problems that occur either during the critical developmental stages or due to inherited conditions. Currently, two known conditions cause a lack of enamel on one’s teeth:

  1. Enamel hypoplasia
    When someone has enamel hypoplasia, their teeth tend to have depressions in the form of pits and groves. They may also have white or yellowish spots on the teeth and can be especially sensitive to the temperature. Factors that can increase the risk of this include congenital issues and hereditary factors.

  2. Hypomineralization
    Another factor that can contribute to a lack of enamel is hypomineralization. Much like enamel hypoplasia, risk factors include congenital issues, but one can also contract this from childhood illnesses. Those afflicted with enamel hypomineralization tend to have a chalky tooth surface. Their teeth may also appear translucent. 

Erosion is the most common cause of enamel loss

While disease-associated factors partially cause a lack of enamel, it’s not the only thing that causes it. Most cases of enamel loss, in fact, do not involve hereditary causes. Instead, enamel erosion is the most significant contributor to this reduction, be it in those with who are predisposed and those who are not. 

For the most part, two factors typically contribute to erosion:

  1. Physical. When enamel erosion is physical, this means that it is physically taken off over time. The causes include sustained frictional or blunt damage your teeth get over time, due to external abrasive forces, or improper oral habits. Repeat occurrences usually take off more enamel. Often, intervention for this type of erosion involves pinpointing practices that contribute to it and correcting them, either by oral appliances or lifestyle changes. 
  2. Chemical. When enamel erosion is chemical, it usually comes from substances in the food you eat. One obvious offender is acid, which can be found in most carbonated or sour drinks. Other sources include chlorine from pools or certain medications. In this case, you can limit erosion by regulating your intake of abrasive substances in your diet or otherwise.
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