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What Causes “Soft Teeth” in Children?

What Causes “Soft Teeth” in Children

The term "soft teeth" is often used to describe a condition known as dental enamel hypoplasia or enamel defects in children. Enamel hypoplasia refers to a developmental condition where the enamel on a child's teeth is thinner or less mineralized than normal, making the teeth more susceptible to cavities, sensitivity, and other dental issues. Several factors can contribute to soft teeth in children:

1. Genetics: Genetic factors can play a role in the development of enamel hypoplasia. If a child inherits genes that make their enamel less robust, they may be more prone to soft teeth.

2. Nutritional deficiencies: Poor nutrition during early childhood, especially deficiencies in essential minerals like calcium and phosphorus, can lead to enamel hypoplasia. Adequate nutrition is crucial for the proper formation and mineralization of tooth enamel.

3. Prenatal factors: Some prenatal factors, such as maternal smoking, certain medications, and infections during pregnancy, can affect the development of a child's teeth, potentially leading to enamel defects.

4. Premature birth: Prematurely born infants often have underdeveloped enamel because tooth development primarily occurs during the last trimester of pregnancy. Premature infants may also have other health issues that can affect their dental health.

5. Fluoride exposure: Both too little and too much fluoride during tooth development can lead to enamel defects. Proper fluoride intake, as recommended by your dentist or local water supply, is essential for strong enamel.

6. Illness or injury: High fever, illnesses, or traumatic injuries to a child's teeth during early development can disrupt enamel formation and lead to soft teeth.

7. Medications: Certain medications taken by children, especially antibiotics like tetracycline, can interfere with enamel development if administered during tooth formation.

8. Dental fluorosis: Excessive fluoride exposure during tooth development can lead to dental fluorosis, which causes enamel discoloration and pitting. This is not the same as enamel hypoplasia but can also affect the appearance and strength of teeth.

It's important to note that enamel hypoplasia is a condition that can vary in severity from mild to severe, and it may affect only a few teeth or multiple teeth. If you suspect that your child has soft teeth or enamel defects, it is crucial to get pediatric dental care. A dentist can evaluate the situation, provide appropriate dental care, and offer guidance on maintaining good oral hygiene and nutrition to minimize the impact of enamel hypoplasia on your child's dental health. Early intervention and preventive measures can help protect your child's teeth and oral health.

If you think your child may have symptoms of enamel hypoplasia, we recommend seeing one of our dentists as soon as possible. To find a location near you, please see our list of locations below.


Kids & Teen Dental Place - Glendale, Huntington Park, Los Angeles, Van Nuys


Adventure - Aurora, Denver, Commerce City, Greeley, Lakewood, Longmont

Academy Kids - Colorado Springs, Pueblo


Adventure - Kansas City, Topeka, Wichita


Adventure - Baltimore, Essex, Landover Hills

New Mexico

Adventure - Albuquerque, Santa Fe


Adventure - Midwest City

Pediatric Dental Group - Tulsa

Washington DC

Adventure - DC, Landover Hills

Leaders in providing high-quality and compassionate dental, vision, and orthodontic services to underserved children. Our providers are general dentists who treat pediatric patients.

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