Background: A prompt and accurate diagnosis of developmental defects of enamel (DDE) is mandatory for proper treatment management. This cross-sectional survey, designed and carried out using anonymous self-administered questionnaires, aimed to assess dental and dental hygiene students' knowledge and their capability to identify different enamel development defects. Methods: The questionnaire consisted of twenty-eight closed-ended questions. Two different samples of undergraduate students were selected and enrolled: a group of dental hygiene (GDH) students and a group of dental (GD) students. A multivariate logistic regression was performed by adopting the correct answers as explanatory variables to assess the difference between the two groups. Results: Overall, 301 completed questionnaires were analyzed: 157 from the GDH and 144 from the GD. The dental student group showed better knowledge than the GDH of enamel hypomineralization and hypoplasia (p = 0.03 for both). A quarter (25.25%) of the total sample correctly identified the period of development of dental fluorosis with a statistically significant difference between the groups (p < 0.01). Amelogenesis imperfecta (AI) was identified as a genetic disease by 64.45% of the sample, with a better performance from the GD (p = 0.01), while no statistical differences were found between the groups regarding molar incisor hypomineralization. Multivariate analysis showed that AI (OR = 0.40, [0.23;0.69], p < 0.01) and caries lesion (OR = 0.58, [0.34;0.94], p = 0.03) were better recognized by the GD. Conclusions: Disparities exist in the knowledge and management of DDE among dental and dental hygiene students in Italy; however, significant knowledge gaps were found in both groups. Education on the diagnosis and treatment of DDE during the training for dental and dental hygiene students needs to be strongly implemented.
Keywords: DDE; amelogenesis imperfecta; dental hygiene students; dental students; enamel hypomineralization; molar incisor hypomineralization.