When a child's permanent teeth first grow in, they may look unusual – large, dark in color, or bumpy around the edges. All of these variations are nothing to fret about, especially the bumpy ridges called tooth mamelons.
What Are Mamelons?
Mamelons teeth appear on the mandibular and maxillary (lower and upper) incisors as small protuberances along the edge. Incisors are the thin, straight teeth toward the front of the mouth that are used mainly for biting and tearing off small pieces of food. Some dental professionals say mamelons resemble the serrations on a steak knife.
Mamelons are completely normal and form as the result of enamel fusing together when the tooth is still developing under the gums. Each of the eight front teeth form from several parts called lobes that fuse together before a tooth pokes through the gum tissue along the pink bony gingival ridge. These little serrations of enamel poke the tooth through the gums so the entire tooth can erupt.
What Happens to Mamelons?
According to Wheeler's Dental Anatomy, Physiology and Occlusion, mamelons don't last for very long. Parents often notice mamelons when the top and bottom permanent front teeth first begin to peek through the gum tissue. These tiny little humps generally wear down over time as the child begins using their teeth to chew. If tooth eruption is delayed or the child has an occlusion discrepancy where their bite does not grind the mamelons naturally, mamelons may not wear away by adulthood.
What Can Patients Do?
For young children, mamelons are normal and generally wear down on their own. Dentists might not intervene or they'll take a wait-and-see approach, but individual cases can be evaluated by your dental professional. Sometimes if the teeth are not wearing consistently due to a bite problem, orthodontic treatment may be needed. If you are concerned with the appearance of bumpy mamelons teeth, a dental professional can smooth or polish them in the office.