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Mamelons: What are they and why do they disappear over time?

By Sasha Curry

Throughout the span of one’s lifetime, our tissues, bones, and organs change shape and composition, as well as grow and/or shrink. Just like the rest of our bodies, our teeth experience many changes over time. Believe it or not, the basic substance of a tooth is formed in the fetus at about 6 weeks of age. From the time teeth begin to develop, to a time where perhaps you’re reading this blog post, your smile has gone through many changes- some small, while others, like losing baby teeth, are much more of a milestone. 

So, what are mamelons and why do they disappear over time, and in some cases why they don’t?

To understand what mamelons are, how they develop, and the gradual disappearance of them, it’s important to discuss how teeth develop, to begin with. 

How teeth are formed

During the development of our teeth, sections are formed that are called lobes, of which each tooth develops 4 or more. On the teeth in the back of your mouth, the lobes form the cusps, or mountains of your molars. As the lobes next to one another grow, they form grooves or valleys on the surfaces of your molars. Your front teeth or incisors develop this same way. You may have even noticed bumps present on your front teeth. As your front teeth come into function, they will naturally wear on average 0.1mm every 10 years. Mamelons present on a childs tooth can be fairly obvious. In most cases, these bumps will wear away over time. 

Why are mamelons sometimes present on adult teeth?

Mamelons that are present 10+ years after erupting, likely remain because those teeth are not in function, either on account of their eruption pattern, or alignment. Conditions such as an anterior open bite can effect the presence of mamelons in adult teeth. An anterior open bite occurs when the incisors (front teeth) in the upper and lower jaw do not overlap. As a result, when the jaws are in a fully closed position, the front teeth will never be under function, and therefore the mamelons will take much longer to clear away.  

Why do some mamelons wear faster than others?

As the expression goes, “no two people are alike”. Although we can observe many similarities in our respective physical development, each of our bodies will grow and change differently over time. For some, mamelons will wear at a much more significant rate than 0.1mm per year. 

Heavy wear can be caused by:

Grinding of teeth at night (Bruxism)

Parafunctional habits - chewing on pens, pencils, fingernails, ice, etc. 

Acid erosion - acidic diets/ acid reflux can cause accelerated wear of teeth. Enamel will begin to decalcify at an acid/base pH of ~5.5

Should I have mamelons removed? How are they removed?

First, it’s important to note that the presence of mamelons alone does not suggest any threat to your oral health. However, it should be noted that in the case of mamelons in adult teeth, a condition such as an anterior open bite may be the cause. As a result, you may be advised to pursue options such as orthodontic treatment.

When addressing the removal of mamelons, it is best to seek out the advice/guidance of experts, which of course, we’d be thrilled to provide. Treatment is usually painless, does not require anesthesia, and generally does not include any recovery time. The procedure may include the shaving of the edges of the teeth to align their surfaces. 

Mamelons are harmless and do not interfere with chewing at all; however, should you be interested in making your smile more the way you’d like, treatment of such is simple, and most certainly one of the services we provide here at M Street Dental. 

A parting message…

Today we covered the development of our teeth, the presence of mamelons and there cause(s), and lastly the treatments available should you wish to have them removed. We are all born with different smiles. Your smile is unique, and so, your treatment should be the same. At M Street, we stand by “no two smiles” being the same. We take pride in providing unique, customized care for each patient who steps through our doors. If you have any questions, concerns, or interest in treatment for things such as mamelons, we’d love to hear from you! Book your appointment today.

From all of us at M Street Dental,

Keep smiling!

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