Mamelon Teeth | What Are They & How To Remove Them

Mamelon Teeth | What Are They & How To Remove Them

 Whitney DiFoggio MA, RDH
Written by Whitney DiFoggio MA, RDH
Medical Reviewed on Oct 17, 2023
byDr. Matthew Hannan DDS
🔬 Evidence Based
Mamelon Teeth | What Are They & How To Remove Them

Have you ever looked at your kid’s newly erupted adult teeth and wondered what the tooth ridges were on the biting edges? No, their front teeth aren’t misshaped. These “mamelons” on teeth are an important characteristic of incisors, which are the front four top and bottom teeth (eight teeth total.) 

Mamelons on healthy teeth serve an important purpose in your child’s developing smile. But some people’s tooth ridges are more prominent than others. Since they’re right on the biting edges of the first permanent teeth that erupt, mamelons typically catch parents and kids off guard. After all, they look so much different than the straighter, whiter baby teeth that they’re erupting next to.

What Are Mamelons on Teeth?

Mamelons are tiny and bumpy tooth ridges on the cutting edge of the front incisor teeth. You don’t usually see them on other teeth because those teeth already have a lot of sharp, pointed edges called “cusps” on them. 

These tooth ridges are a developmental characteristic that helps incisor front teeth erupt and cut through the gum tissue. About 9 out of 10 permanent incisors will have mamelons. You don’t see them on baby teeth.

Mamelons are made up of tooth enamel, which is the outermost layer of your tooth. The layer underneath your tooth enamel (dentin) does not play a role in whether or not your incisors have teeth ridges or how big they are.

Chances are you’ll notice mamelons on your child’s lower front two teeth, as those teeth are usually the first permanent teeth to erupt. If there are mamelons on those teeth, they’re likely to be on the next incisors once those come in too. 

What Mamelons Look Like

You’ll only see mamelons on the incisors, so the top front four and bottom front four teeth. Mamelons come in a set of three. They look like tiny little scalloped edges right on the most pointed/sharp edge of your incisors. 

mamelon on teeth

If you were to look at one of those teeth very close and with a bright light, you might even be able to see the next layer of the tooth through your enamel, with the enamel ridges setting themselves apart from the darker dentin layer underneath. That’s because your tooth enamel is slightly translucent (side note, that’s why dentists love using porcelain for cosmetic treatments since it mimics tooth enamel.)

How Long Do Mamelons Last? Will They Go Away?

Great news! If there are prominent tooth ridges, you don’t automatically have to talk to your dentist about cosmetic treatment to remove them. Mamelons on teeth will usually wear down on their own. Biting and chewing will gradually cause those thin little tooth ridges to wear out. Your oral health is not in jeopardy, mamelons gradually wear down and don't affect you normal chewing and biting habits.

Mamelons start to flatten out within a few months of the tooth erupting. It’s as if once those ridges serve their purpose—cutting through the gum tissues to erupt—they start to go away. But sometimes, it may take years before the mamelons are completely gone, especially if your teeth don’t touch one another whenever you’re biting down all the way. 

These tooth ridges are likely to last longer when you have other issues going on, like crowded or rotated teeth, overjets, open bite, or an underbite. 

In instances where people’s mamelons don’t go away on their own, it’s possible to have your dentist remove them for you. 

Why Does This Happen? 

Mamelons help your front incisal teeth break through the tissues as part of the newly erupted teeth process.

  • You’ll only see mamelons on the top front four teeth and bottom front four teeth (eight incisors total.)
  • Most mamelons will be in a group of three ridges per tooth. 
  • The ridged enamel in those spaces may be a little more transparent than the rest of your tooth. 
  • After the tooth has erupted all of the way, mamelons start to wear down within a few months.
  • Teeth that don’t line up properly are more likely to have mamelons for a longer period of time or mamelons that don’t go away at all. 
  • Your dentist can eventually remove the mamelons if they pose a cosmetic concern. 
  • The teeth further back in your mouth don’t need mamelons because they already have their own pointed cusps.
  • Mamelons are only made up of enamel, so there is no dentin or pulp tissue in those parts of your teeth, which is why it’s safe for them to wear down. 
  • Mamelons serve a functional purpose, so it’s important to let them “run their course” on their own when applicable. 
  • About 90% of incisors have mamelons. The other 10% don’t. 

Pros & Cons Of Mamelon Removal

Pros of Mamelon Removal

Removing ridges on teeth is fast and practically pain-free. Your dentist can quickly buff out the mamelons to leave your tooth looking more contoured and symmetrical. Mamelon removal is very safe and permanent, so you won’t have to worry about them growing back. Smoothing out those tooth edges helps your smile look more balanced and attractive, serving an important cosmetic role for anyone getting a smile makeover. Bonus: no numbing is needed during the appointment; it doesn’t hurt whatsoever. 

Cons of Mamelon Removal

Any time you recontour or reduce the thickness of your tooth enamel, you’re essentially wearing away healthy, functional tooth structure. It’s like fast-forwarding your tooth to a state that’s several years older than it is at the current moment. You need to consider that the tooth will normally wear down over time, so you don’t want to remove so much tooth enamel that your teeth are too short or flat decades down the road. 

How Much Does It Cost To Get Your Teeth Shaped?

Tooth recontouring is very affordable. Depending on the dental office you go to, they might not even charge for it. Or if they do, the fee will be very modest (usually less than cosmetic bonding.) Since most people have their mamelons “buffed out” as part of another cosmetic or restorative procedure, there’s a good chance your dentist will just include the fee for mamelon removal with that of the other services they’re performing that day. 

Since mamelon removal is a cosmetic treatment, your dental insurance probably won’t pay for it. If your dentist’s office does charge for tooth recontouring, the fee for mamelon removal will probably range anywhere from $50 to a couple of hundred dollars on the high end. Comparatively speaking, it’s pretty affordable when you consider the significant cosmetic advantages it provides. 

Is Tooth Reshaping Safe?

Yes. Dentists use teeth recontouring or “tooth shaving” very frequently. When they do, they’re basically buffing out a thin layer of enamel to make the tooth smoother, flatter, or thinner in that space. Cosmetic contouring is a simple cosmetic dentistry procedure with no recovery time at all. We frequently see this situation when someone is getting dental veneers. 

In the case of mamelon removal, tooth reshaping typically involves a very fine instrument that gently smooths out the tooth in a matter of seconds. 

Tooth reshaping is what we call a “minimally invasive” cosmetic procedure. Since it only affects the outermost layer of your tooth, we don’t have to worry about your tooth nerve hurting or becoming hypersensitive during the procedure. In 99% of tooth recontouring cases, your dentist won’t even need to use numbing medication on that tooth beforehand. Think about it like having your nails buffed before getting a dip or acrylic set put on them.

All of that being said, if you’re very young and having your mamelons smoothed out, you need to consider the fact that there will be 1-2 millimeters less enamel in those spaces to “wear down” when you’re biting and chewing. It may seem minuscule, but someone with a heavy bite could see accelerated tooth wear in the years ahead if too much enamel is removed. 

Talk With A Cosmetic Dentist

If you see tiny bumps on your child’s front teeth (or your own, for that matter), it’s not normally something to worry about. But if they’re posing a cosmetic issue, ask your dentist if it’s safe to have them removed. Cosmetic dentistry procedures are normally minimally invasive and not covered by dental insurance.

Mamelon Teeth Recap

About 90% of people have mamelons (tiny tooth ridges) on the biting edges of their top front four and bottom front four teeth. They’re totally normal and usually start to wear out the older we get. Teeth that don’t bite together correctly may have mamelons that last longer or don’t go away. But if they pose a major cosmetic issue, you can have them removed by your dentist in a short, comfortable tooth recontouring procedure. There’s nothing wrong with your teeth; the fact that you have mamelons helps incisor teeth erupt correctly. 

 Whitney DiFoggio MA, RDH
Written by Whitney DiFoggio MA, RDH"Teeth Talk Girl," is a registered dental hygienist. She started her dental health journey on YouTube, educating the public through videos.
Dr. Matthew  Hannan DDS
Medical Reviewed byDr. Matthew Hannan DDSDr. Matthew Hannan is a board-certified dentist and graduate of UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry.
Last updated onOctober 18, 2023Here is our process

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