Most children have a full set of 20 baby teeth by the time they are three, before 32 permanent (or adult) teeth start to appear. Children's baby and permanent teeth start to appear at different ages, but one thing that many parents notice is that their kids' front adult teeth have several small bumps on the cutting edges. Find out what these bumps are, and learn why permanent teeth form in this way.
How tooth mamelons form
Tooth mamelons take their name from the French language, where the word translates as nipple. You may also have heard the term used to describe the volcanic hills that form when thick lava erupts through bedrock. Dentists use the term to describe the lumps that look a little like small hills on the cutting edges of permanent teeth.
Permanent teeth develop under the gum tissue when two special types of cell come together. Ameloblasts develop the hard enamel on the outside layer of the tooth and the surface of the crown, while odontoblasts form the dental pulp and dentine.
Odontoblasts and ameloblasts slowly develop the tooth, working toward the apex or root tip. During the process, the cells form three distinct areas of enamel, which then become visible on the incising (or cutting) edge of the tooth. Patients will see these lumps (or mamelons) on each front tooth.
What normally happens to tooth mamelons
For most people, tooth mamelons disappear without any intervention. By the time a child reaches adulthood the mamelons are normally no longer visible, as the natural process of chewing wears the small lumps away.
The mamelons are not as strong as the rest of the tooth, and the material is generally quite thin. What's more, the mamelons will normally wear away easily because the serrated surface is uneven. It's important to note that a mamelon does not occur because of tooth damage. These lumps are perfectly natural, and most people don't need to have any type of dental treatment to get rid of their mamelons.
Why a dentist would remove your mamelons
Occasionally, mamelons do not wear away without intervention. The natural chewing and grinding process only works if your teeth meet normally. If your front teeth don't touch when you bite something, nothing will wear away the mamelons. In this instance, a dentist may need to take action.
An orthodontist will sometimes remove the mamelons. He or she will use an electric instrument to file down the mamelons. The process is painless, so you won't need an anaesthetic. Of course, if the mamelons don't cause any problems, the dentist won't need to do anything.
If you are concerned about mamelons or other issues related to oral health, talk to a dentist at a family clinic like Wanniassa Dental Surgery.