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Premature Babies: 3 Common Oral Health Conditions

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If your child was born prematurely, it will have a higher risk of developing certain dental problems, such as enamel hypoplasia, delayed tooth growth or discoloured teeth. The severity of these issues will often depend on how premature your child was. Below is a guide to 3 oral health conditions which can affect premature babies.

Enamel hypoplasia

Enamel hypoplasia is a condition which causes missing or soft enamel on your child's teeth. The condition is caused by the fact that mineralisation of the teeth and the formation of enamel occurs during the last trimester of pregnancy. Because premature babies spend a shorter amount of time in the womb, their enamel isn't fully developed at birth. Enamel hypoplasia can increase the risk that your child will develop cavities and tooth decay. For this reason, you should make regular appointments so your child's teeth can be checked by a dentist. Your dentist will be able to apply specialist fluoride paste to your child's teeth in order to promote mineralisation. They will also be able to spot any early signs of decay and provide preventive treatments. This condition only affects your baby's milk teeth, so as they grow and their adult teeth develop, enamel hypoplasia will cease to be a problem.

Delayed growth and appearance of baby teeth

Babies which are born prematurely will often experience the delayed growth and appearance of baby teeth. While this may cause you some concern, it generally won't cause any issues for your child. As a small child, your baby will be able to use their gums to chew on soft baby food. Once the teeth begin to appear, they should progress at a normal rate of development. If you have any concerns about the development of your child's teeth, you should speak to your dentist.

Discoloured teeth

If a premature baby has experienced jaundice, this can lead to the teeth becoming yellow or brown in appearance. While this does not have any long lasting affect on your child's dental health, it could cause embarrassment as they grow older. This condition will resolve itself once your child's baby teeth are replaced by adult teeth. If the teeth are severely discoloured, a dentist may recommend inserting veneers onto the surface of your child's teeth in order to cover the staining.

If you have any questions or concerns about your child's teeth, contact your dentist for further advice and treatment.