Puppy with Enamel Hypoplasia

Pre-operative image of the left maxilla revealing significant, widespread enamel hypoplasia.

A 10 month old dog was referred to Dr. Niemiec at Veterinary Dental Specialties & Oral Surgery for widespread enamel hypoplasia, a condition which the tooth enamel is diseased and appears as discoloration or pitting on the pet’s teeth. 

The patient was placed under general anesthesia and a complete dental exam was performed.  In addition to the hypoplasia, there were also several mobile teeth.  Dental radiographs revealed severe root hypoplasia (Figures 3-6).  In addition, the left maxillary canine (204) had a root fracture with secondary infection (Figure 6).

Several teeth with significant periodontal disease or minimal to no root structure were extracted.  The remainder of the involved teeth were treated with bonded sealants to decrease pain as well as smooth out the teeth to decrease plaque attachment and secondary periodontal disease.  The pet owner was provided important education about the need for strict home care and regular routine cleanings to avoid periodontal disease.  These patients are prone to periodontal disease and tooth loss because the teeth are still rougher than normal, and they have minimal root structure.

Post-operative dental picture showing the soothed and sealed teeth.

Post-operative dental picture showing the soothed and sealed teeth.

The pattern of enamel hypocalcification in this puppy is a hereditary condition called amelogenesis imperfecta.  The teeth do not form correctly and the enamel flakes off exposing the underlying dentin.  This not only creates sensitivity but also poses the risk for potential endodontic infection.  Finally, the roughened teeth increases the risk of periodontal disease. Therefore, restorations (composite or bonded sealants) are recommended for cases of enamel hypoplasia in pets to:

  1. Decrease sensitivity
  2. Block off the pathway for infection
  3. Smooth the teeth to decrease periodontal disease.

Referral to a board certified veterinary dentist is recommended for comprehensive treatment of these complex cases.