On the relationship between premature birth and dental problems

By: Dr. Jane Ronan - specialist in children's dentistry
6 Wedgwood Ave. (Carmel Center) Haifa - Tel: 04-8388815

Studies show that babies born before their time are at a higher risk of developing dental problems including: defects in the tooth enamel, cleft palate, tooth discoloration and delayed eruption.

Defects in the tooth vitreous ( = hypoplasia of the enamel)

In premature babies, there is a 4 times higher incidence of defects in the outer layer of the tooth (enamel/vitreous). The defects appear as missing areas in the tooth material in the form of depressions or holes. The possible causes for this are apparently, pressure during the insertion of the breathing tube = (intubation), during respiration or due to lack of nutrients. These defects increase the risk of caries and therefore in these children extra care is required in brushing, exposure to fluoride and frequent follow-up at the dentist.

sunken in the palate

It is a narrow depression in the roof of the oral cavity caused by pressure during breathing. The longer the ventilation, the more likely the dent will appear, although the dent also appeared in premature babies who were ventilated for only one week. When this cavity is present, there may be complications such as crowding, misalignment of teeth, problems sucking or speaking.

Discoloration of the teeth

Among newborns who suffered from high bilirubin levels after birth, yellow-brown staining may appear in the falling teeth. This internal coloring cannot be removed by brushing or by the dentist.

Delayed hatching

It is possible in cases of very low birth weight or illness. There are studies linking this to infections after birth, poor nutrition and/or prolonged breathing. If your child was born very small or very sick, there may be a delay of 2-6 months in hatching.

congenitally toothless

No connection between premature births and missing teeth was found in the literature. Similar to the general health problems associated with prematurity, the smaller or sicker the newborn was, the higher the risk of developing the problems listed. It is recommended to visit a pediatric dentist to check this. God-AAPD (The American Association of Pediatric Dentists) recommends that all parents brush their children's teeth starting with the eruption of the first tooth. Also, it is recommended to have a first examination at the dentist no later than one year of age - examination and consultation at this stage are intended to help prevent the development of various dental problems.

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