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Also known as: Enamel Hypoplasia


Enamal (Courtesy of Alun Williams (RVC))

This condition is a consequence of abnormalities occurring during the period of tooth eruption. It involves damage to ameloblasts (which form enamel) in utero, which upsets permanent incisor formation. The enamel is marked by pits and lines etc.

In ruminants, damage to enamel formation is most often caused by fluoride poisoning and is seen in cattle grazing on pasture contaminated by cement works effluent.

In dogs, hypoplasia may occur following a Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) infection during tooth development. This is a very severe systemic disease seen early in life or in utero in dogs. For more small animal specific information please see Enamel Dysplasia

Hypoplasia may also occur in single teeth following damage to the permanent tooth germ, for example if a deciduous tooth is fractured or extracted without care. The damaged ameloblasts will fail to form enamel and abnormalities will be evident.

Clinical Signs

In ruminants, one will see a chalky mottling and yellow brown pitting of the tooth, due to enamel hypoplasia. There is usually no difficulty in mastication detected and the animal is clinically well.

In dogs, enamel hypoplasia may result in severe discoloration or pitting of a tooth or teeth due to the effect on enamel formation.


Clinical signs are diagnostic, plus history e.g. of CDV in dogs, fluoride in cattle.

Treatment and Control

There is no treatment for this condition. Control measures are prevention of the causes of the disease, e.g. vaccination against CDV and prevention of fluoride poisoning in cattle.

If only a single tooth is affected, restorative treatment can be performed using dental composites or a metal-alloy jacket crown.

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Tutt, C., Deeprose, J. and Crossley, D. (2007) BSAVA Manual of Canine and Feline Dentistry (3rd Edition), British Small Animal Veterinary Association.

Williams, A (2008) Alimentary System Study Guide, Royal Veterinary College.

Verstraete, F. (1999) Self-assessment colour review in Veterinary Dentistry Manson Publishing

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