hypomineralization

Mystery of children’s ‘chalky teeth’ explained

A blood protein blocks hardening of enamel on teeth growing inside the jaw

Australian and Chilean researchers solve a 100-year-old mystery and call for education and research to save millions of teeth worldwide.

Case studies available.

One in five children have chalky tooth enamel – visible as discoloured enamel spots – which often causes severe toothache and decay, and sometimes leads to abscesses, extractions and orthodontic problems.

Now, researchers from The D3 Group (based at The University of Melbourne, Australia) and the University of Talca in Chile, have discovered the mechanism causing molar hypomineralisation, the commonest type of chalky teeth.

They report today in Frontiers of Physiology that chalky molars arise when developing enamel is contaminated by albumin – a protein found both in blood and in the tissue fluid surrounding developing teeth. The trigger appears to be childhood illnesses.

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