Why Do Teeth Have Ridges?

Expectant mothers are counseled on what to do to have a healthy baby. The recommended diet and lifestyle practices affect a baby’s organ systems, including their teeth. For example, some antibiotics taken during specific periods of pregnancy can cause irreversible discoloration of their child’s teeth. Other factors, such as nutritional deficiencies, trauma, and disease, can cause various developmental anomalies. Are ridges on the edge of your child’s teeth one of these anomalies? Find out why do teeth have ridges below. And if you need help finding a children’s dentist we have offices in North Charleston, West Ashley, Summerville, Mount Pleasant, James Island, and Hanahan, SC.

If you have questions or concerns about your teeth and gums, schedule an appointment at Trident Dental for a comprehensive oral examination.

What Is a Mamelon?

The four central and lateral incisors are the first teeth to erupt in a child’s mouth. These are the eight front teeth that are most prominent when we smile. Typically, the central incisors erupt first, followed by the lateral incisors. Although these teeth appear between six and twelve months of age, they begin forming at about six weeks of pregnancy.

About the fourth month of pregnancy, the permanent teeth start forming when three groups of cells come together to form tooth buds. The first permanent teeth to erupt are the first molars, followed soon by the eight incisors. It can disturb parents to notice that the front teeth can appear with three small bumps on the incisal, or cutting, edges. Dentists call these bumps or ridges mamelons. 

Why Do My Child’s Teeth Have 3 Ridges?

Mamelons typically appear in a group of three because of the three groups of cells mentioned above. As these three cells fuse, they create three enamel protuberances or mamelons on the incisal edges. These ridges may be barely visible or can be so pronounced that they affect a child’s appearance. The purpose of these ridges may be to help teeth pierce the overlying gum to erupt into the mouth.

What Should I Do About Ridges on Teeth?

Ridges on the incisal edges of front teeth should cause no concern since they typically wear down during childhood. However, a misaligned bite that prevents teeth from coming together during chewing can cause mamelons to persist into adulthood if the bite problem is not corrected with orthodontics. Typical misalignments that may prevent mamelons from wearing down include:

  • Overjet. This describes protrusion of the upper teeth that creates an excessive horizontal space between the top and bottom front teeth.

  • Overbite. This describes an excessive overlap of upper front teeth over the lower front teeth. The teeth may not come into contact with each other, and the lower teeth often will touch the palate behind the upper teeth.

  • Underbite. If your lower front teeth are in front of your upper teeth when you close your mouth, you have an underbite. This lower jaw protrusion can prevent mamelons from wearing down, especially on the lower front teeth.

  • Open bite. This outward slanting of upper and lower teeth prevents them from touching each other. Thumb sucking and excessive use of a pacifier can cause an open bite.

Occasionally, the incisal edges wear down unevenly or incompletely. Your dentist can usually remove the mamelons, polish, and smooth these areas with a treatment known as odontoplasty. Although this is usually done for cosmetic reasons, it may also be necessary before wearing braces to move teeth into a more ideal position. Since odontoplasty only removes tooth enamel, it requires no anesthetic and does not increase the risk of tooth decay. 

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Contact us at Trident Dental to learn more about our comprehensive general dentistry services to help you maintain healthy teeth and gums for a lifetime. 

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