There has been a global increase in reports of children suffering from a dental condition known as ‘chalky teeth’ in the molar and incisor teeth. This condition causes discolouration to teeth, while also making them more sensitive to pain, cold, heat and even the feeling of brushing.
This condition is known in the medical world as MIH, and it occurs at a frequency of 3-22% in Europe and 2-40% worldwide. The reason for its occurrence is tied to several contributing factors, including:
- Epidemiological studies have shown that maternal diseases, birth complications or frequent illness during the first year of life can contribute to this condition.
- Low levels of Vitamin D in the blood, as well as early exposure to the antibiotic, amoxicillin have been linked with MIH.
- MIH levels have been tied to increased exposure to dioxin and 5-year olds with high serum levels of tetrachlorodibenzodioxin (TCDD).
However, recent media coverage has been tied MIH to the use of Bisphenol A (BPA) in consumable products, ranging from plastic water bottles to fillings used in repairing teeth. However, these studies have been misleading, and all have their limitations.
For example, one study in 2013 was only carried out on male rats, with only one dose of BPA being administered. Later studies on female rats showed that the finds were either weaker or non-existent. The effects on day 100 of exposure to BPA in postnatal subjects was not put into context as the effects of high BPA does on multigenerational rats and mice that had no tooth damage were not reported.
This inconclusive evidence shows that MIH must be considered a multifactorial condition that cannot be tied to one cause.
Even if the cause isn’t apparent, MIH in children is serious. It doesn’t just cause pain and sensitivity, it can also lead to tooth decay due to the softening of the enamel and the dentine.
The condition is usually unnoticeable until the adult incisors and molars have appeared in the mouth, which generally occurs at about 6-7 years of age. The back baby molar teeth are sometimes affected, meaning the condition can be diagnosed from two to three years of age. The condition can be confined to one, some or all of the molars or incisors, or even every adult canine.
The most common diagnosis comes from observing discoloured front or back teeth. The discolouration is most commonly a cream, yellow or brown colour. Sensitive teeth are also a common sign, and young children may show signs of distress when you brush or touch their teeth.
Getting the diagnosis made and the condition treated is absolutely essential. If the situation is allowed to progress, then the molar teeth can continue to break down, which can lead to nerve pain, abscesses and even the need to remove the tooth.
What Milky Teeth Treatments Are Available?
The exact treatment recommended will vary based on your child’s needs. Common treatments include:
- Front Teeth: Teeth are treated for sensitivity and appearance, as well as to improve any roughness and breakdown. Treatment can be a combination of whitening techniques, while a fluoride varnish can help with sensitivity. Other options are a resin infiltrant, acid pumice microabrasion and even a white filling attached to the front of the tooth.
- Back Teeth: Depending on the level of decay and break down, fissure sealants can protect the natural groove in the tooth, and overall stabilisation can be achieved through fillings. Crowns may be used for severely affected teeth.
- Tooth Removal: Extraction is a last resort, and will only be performed if absolutely necessary. If this is done early enough, there is still a chance for the adult teeth to move in and fill the gaps.
The connection between Bisphenol A and milky teeth is not clear, although it is always best to avoid the ingestion of chemicals wherever possible. That means avoiding BPA plastics and going to a holistic dentist that uses BPA-free fillings. As a holistic dentistry we are always seeking out ways to remove even the tiniest amounts of chemicals from our solutions, and we always believe it’s better to be safe than sorry.