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What Are Mamelons on Teeth?

Medically Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on May 11, 2021

Mamelons are the small bumps on your four front teeth called incisors. They usually appear as a group of three and wear down as you age. Mamelons don't need any special treatment. They give your teeth a scalloped or serrated look.

Which Teeth Have Mamelons?

Mamelons only appear on your incisors. You have four incisors on the top and four on the bottom for a total of eight teeth. Over 90% of incisors have three mamelons on them when they break through the gum. The mamelons usually wear down with normal chewing. This wearing down starts as soon as a few months after the teeth appear.

Your permanent incisors typically come in when you are between the ages of 6 and 8 years. They are designed for ripping and cutting food into small pieces so that you can chew safely. The incisors are the teeth that people see most often when you eat, talk, or smile.

Your teeth have four parts:

  • The crown is the visible part of your tooth and is covered by white enamel. 
  • Dentin is a layer that is similar to bone and supports your enamel. 
  • The tooth pulp is at the core of each of your teeth and is also called the “nerve.”  
  • The root attaches your teeth to the bones in your mouth.

Each mamelon is a part of the hard outer enamel on your incisors.  

What Is the Purpose of Mamelons on Teeth?

Mamelons form on your permanent teeth before you are born. They may help your teeth break through the gums once you reach the right age. The appearance of mamelons can be different from person to person. There are usually three bumps per tooth.

What Happens to Mamelons on Teeth?

You don't usually need to do anything to get rid of mamelons on your teeth. They will generally go away on their own as a result of normal grinding and chewing. But your mamelons may not wear away if your teeth come in late or aren't lined up correctly. Some types of alignment problems that may prevent your mamelons from wearing away include:

  • Crossbite, when your upper teeth fit inside your lower teeth
  • Underbite, when your lower jaw extends beyond your upper jaw
  • Deep bite, when your front teeth cover too much of your bottom teeth when your jaw is closed
  • Crowding, when there isn't enough room for all of your teeth
  • Spacing, when there's too much room between your teeth
  • Protrusion, when your front teeth stick out
  • Open bite, when your teeth don't overlap

How to Remove Mamelons on Teeth

You can have a procedure called tooth reshaping done if your mamelons aren't going away or you don’t like them. It's a cosmetic procedure that may not be covered by your insurance. It’s also called dental contouring and involves removing a small amount of your tooth's enamel to reshape it.

Your dentist will take X-rays of your teeth to find out exactly where the pulp is. They will schedule your appointment if your tooth is healthy. The following will happen during the appointment:

  • Your dentist will mark the tooth in the area where it needs to be reshaped.
  • No pain medications will be needed since there are no nerves or blood vessels.
  • Your dentist will use several tools such as drills and lasers to smooth your tooth.
  • They will check to make sure your alignment is good.
  • Your dentist will smooth and polish the tooth.

Pros and Cons of Tooth Reshaping

Pros. Some of the benefits of tooth reshaping include:

  • It's painless.
  • It's noninvasive.
  • There's no downtime or recovery.
  • It can make taking care of your teeth easier.
  • It's inexpensive compared to many cosmetic dental procedures. 

Cons. Some of the downsides to tooth reshaping are:

  • It's limited to minor changes.
  • Your teeth may be sensitive to hot and cold temperatures for a while.
  • Your tooth may be at risk for breaking or decay if too much enamel is removed.

Show Sources

SOURCES:

AAO: "7 Common Bite Problems in Children and Adults."

Breckenridge Dental & Orthodontics: “WHAT ARE THE PARTS OF A TOOTH? BASIC TOOTH ANATOMY.”

Dental Anthropology: A Publication of the Dental Anthropology Association: "Intra- and Inter-population Variability in Mamelon Expression on Incisor Teeth."

FARMINGTON DENTAL: “All About Cosmetic Dental Contouring, AKA Tooth Reshaping - With Beaverton, OR Cosmetic Dentist.”

IntechOpen: "Permanent Maxillary and Mandibular Incisors."

GERIATRICS & AGING: "Normal Aging of Teeth."

Wekiva Dental: “What is Teeth Reshaping and is It Right For You.”

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