Estimated occurrence50 individuals per million inhabitants, according to an estimate in the USA.
CauseThere are both autosomal dominant and recessive patterns of inheritance. Spontaneous mutations are relatively common. Junctional EB and the more severe forms of dystrophic EB are usually of recessive aetiology.
General symptomsThe EB group contains some 20 disorders, characterized by a congenital predisposition toward skin blistering and, in some cases, even blistering on the mucus membranes. With some oversimplification, it is possible to divide EB into three main groups, depending on the layers of the skin on which the blisters occur, their degree of severity, and the tendency to develop scar tissue: a) EB simplex; b) Junctional EB; c) Dystrophic EB.
Orofacial/odontological symptomsBoth junctional and dystrophic EB may be associated with problems of the teeth. Enamel defects including thin enamel and hypoplasia are common. The teeth may be discoloured and yellowish-brown. Both milk teeth and permanent teeth may be affected, and the problems may appear on only a few or all the teeth. Enamel defects may result in sensitive teeth that react, for example, strongly to heat or to cold, as well as in an increased risk of caries. In both junctional and dystrophic EB there may be painful sores and blisters on the mucus membranes of the mouth, often with the development of scar tissue. This may lead to difficulties in opening the mouth wide, and in a reduced ability to move the tongue and lips. This, in turn, may lead to difficulties with feeding and swallowing. Sores and blisters, defective nails, and fusion of the fingers are factors that may lead to problems with everyday oral hygiene and thus to an increased risk of gingivitis. Enamel defects and eating problems may also increase the risk for caries (cavity in tooth).
Advice on follow-up and treatment
- Early contact with the dental services for intensified prophylactic dental care and oral hygiene information is essential.
- A light hand, superficial anaesthesia in connection with nitrous oxide (laughing gas) can all reduce the risks of both pain and tissue trauma from dental treatments. The teeth may be cleaned with a carefully selected electric toothbrush, possibly in combination with a waterpick. If the mucus membrane is too fragile to tolerate mechanical tooth brushing, a suitable chlorhexidine preparation may be prescribed. In cases where scar tissue results in reduced elasticity of the lips, cheeks and tongue, a moisturizer such as Biotène Oralbalance toothpaste or a saliva replacement lubricant such as Proxident with peanut oil or Oraclean may be used to soften the tissue. A Proxident oral wipe with a holder may serve as a gentle tool for cleaning the mucus membranes of the mouth and tongue.
- Feeding and swallowing difficulties are investigated and treated by a specialist team at the hospital or multidisciplinary treatment centre.
Updated: 2019-11-12 14:44