Can Tooth Enamel Grow Back in Children?

Children's tooth enamel doesn't grow back if it's damaged. Proper hygiene helps to preserve the integrity of the tissue. Learn more.
Can Tooth Enamel Grow Back in Children?
Vanesa Evangelina Buffa

Written and verified by the dentist Vanesa Evangelina Buffa.

Last update: 22 February, 2023

The outermost layer of the teeth protects them from external agents that can damage them. If a child loses their tooth enamel, it causes unpleasant consequences. Not having this protective barrier causes sensitivity, pain, and changes in the appearance of the teeth. The bad news is that this wear is irreversible because once it’s lost, this tissue doesn’t grow back.

Discover the importance of tooth enamel in children’s teeth and why it doesn’t grow back. In addition, here are some tips to help your child preserve this valuable dental layer and what to do if it wears away.

What is dental enamel?

Tooth enamel is one of the four tissues that make up the tooth structure. Together with dentin and cementum, it makes up the hard part of the teeth. The pulp is the only soft component and is located in the innermost part of the tooth. It’s composed of connective tissue, cells, blood vessels, and nerve fillets. The hard tissues of the teeth are arranged outside it in layers that protect that area.

Around the pulp is the dentin and, on the outside, the enamel in the crown area and the cementum in the root. The tooth enamel of children, then, is the outermost area of the crown of the teeth. It’s made up of mineralized tissue and a small amount of organic substance and water. It’s the hardest tissue in our body. However, this doesn’t mean that it’s indestructible, as it can wear down in certain situations.

Thanks to the fact that teeth have this outer layer, children don’t suffer sensitivity when brushing or eating hot or cold food. This tissue lacks nerve endings. It also has no cells in its composition, which is why it can’t grow back when it wears out.

Enamel formation

Tooth formation begins in the embryo, in the mother’s womb. First, an organic matrix is formed on which hydroxyapatite crystals are deposited to mineralize the tissue. After crystallization, the enamel loses water and becomes hard. Once the process is complete, the ameloblasts disappear and the tissue becomes cell-free.

Because tooth enamel in children can’t regrow, maintaining its integrity is critical. Otherwise, the teeth won’t have the protection they need and there will be discomfort in the mouth.

A young girl at the dentist.
Acids caused by bacteria in the mouth can demineralize the enamel of children’s teeth and lead to tooth decay.

Damage to children’s tooth enamel

Children’s tooth enamel protects the innermost layers of the teeth. But, despite its resistance and hardness, it’s susceptible to some damage. Here are some of the situations that can damage the external barrier of the teeth:

  • Problems during enamel formation: In the stage of tooth formation, the enamel fails to develop normally and the teeth have a lower quality tissue or lack this protective layer. This is the case of amelogenesis imperfect, hypoplasias, and fluorosis.
  • Diet: Some acidic foods and beverages such as soft drinks and sodas erode and weaken tooth enamel.
  • Cavities: Acids produced by bacteria fermenting sugars in the diet are capable of demineralizing tooth enamel.
  • Too little saliva: Saliva neutralizes harmful acids and provides the elements that teeth need to maintain a balance between demineralization and remineralization. Xerostomia or lack of saliva favors enamel mineral loss.
  • Gastrointestinal problems: Gastroesophageal reflux, heartburn, or frequent vomiting can erode the enamel due to the action of stomach acids.
  • Trauma: Grinding and clenching the teeth, toothbrushing with too much pressure or very hard bristles, or habits such as biting nails or other objects, wear down this dental tissue.

The symptoms of teeth with damaged tooth enamel

Children’s teeth that have lost their enamel look yellowish in color. This is due to the color of the underlying dentin, which is exposed without the outer layer that covers it. In addition, it’s common for the teeth experience pain or sensitivity when eating sweet, cold, or hot foods. Teeth also often have cracks or small pits, because, without protection, they’re more susceptible to cracks, fractures, and decay.

A child eating sour, chewy candy.
When they’ve lost their enamel, children’s teeth often appear yellowish. In addition, they’re likely to be sensitive when consuming cold, hot, or sweet foods.

What to do when children lose their tooth enamel?

Because it has no living cells, children’s tooth enamel doesn’t regenerate. However, when it’s lost, there are therapeutic options to restore the integrity of the teeth. For example, when mineral loss isn’t very extensive and enamel remains, remineralization can be promoted.

Fluoride is the most popular substance for promoting tooth remineralization. This element combines with the enamel crystals and forms fluorapatite, a material that’s very resistant to the action of acids. Nowadays, other substances capable of mineralizing tooth enamel are also used, such as calcium silicates, nahohydroxyapatite, and casein phosphopeptides – amorphous calcium phosphate.

When the tooth has lost a large extension of enamel, placing an artificial material on the teeth to restore their integrity will be necessary. First, the damaged tissue must be removed and then filled with a filling. When lesions appear in the dental enamel, it’s important to seek an early solution. Otherwise, the damage progresses and little ones can suffer pain and infections and even lose their teeth.

Caring for children’s tooth enamel

Because children’s tooth enamel doesn’t grow back, it’s important to take care of it from the time the first teeth appear in the mouth. Proper hygiene, with good brushing and fluoride toothpaste, helps preserve the integrity of the tissue. In addition, giving the child a nutritious diet that’s rich in calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins also favors dental health, while sweets and acidic drinks should be avoided.

Finally, visiting the dentist before the baby’s first year of life and continuing with biannual check-ups helps to preserve the dental health of little ones. The professional will detect any problems in your child’s enamel early on and will look for the best solution.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Betancourt, J. C., & Lima, J. (2020). Tejidos Dentarios: Desarrollo Embriológico. Congreso virtual de Ciencias Morfológicas. Retrieved from http://www. morfovirtual2020. sld. cu/index. php/morfovirtual/morfovirtual2020/pa per/viewFile/728/611.
  • Vázquez, L. A., Sarabia, M. M., Padilla, S. M., & Martínez, M. J. M. (2014). Histogénesis del esmalte dentario. Consideraciones generales. Archivo Médico Camagüey11(3).
  • Simmer, J. P., Hu, J. C., Hu, Y., Zhang, S., Liang, T., Wang, S. K., … & Smith, C. E. (2021). A genetic model for the secretory stage of dental enamel formation. Journal of Structural Biology213(4), 107805.
  • Tan, T. M., Arango, E. L., & Labarcena, B. R. (2019). Características del esmalte y rol de la saliva como factores de riesgo a caries dental. Progaleno2(3), 224-235.
  • Bustamante, O. C., Troncos, L. G. P., de Zebrauskas, A. P. P., Leandro, K. C. R., & Sime, C. L. D. C. H. (2020). Antisépticos Orales: Clorhexidina, flúor y triclosán. Salud & Vida Sipanense7(1), 4-16.
  • Dario, B., & Zuñiga, P. (2020). Factores asociados a la erosión dental en pacientes pediátricos (Bachelor’s thesis, Universidad Nacional de Chimborazo).
  • Benítez Villacís, P. J. (2022). Remineralización biomimética y microdureza superficial en esmalte: Efecto de dos agentes remineralizantes, fosfopéptido de caseína-fosfato de calcio amorfo y nanohidroxiapatita en dientes erosionados artificialmente con tres sustancias ácidas (Bachelor’s thesis, Quito: UCE).
  • Isabella María, B. M., Shira Bellatriz, P. S., Karla de la Caridad, R. P., & Adriana María, G. C. (2020, April). EFECTO EROSIVO DE LAS BEBIDAS INDUSTRIALIZADAS DE ALTO CONSUMO EN EL ESMALTE DENTAL. In Estomatologia2020.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.