Jagged Teeth: Causes, Treatments, and More

Alonzo Osche

Give a dentist two teeth of the same type and size, and there may be a way that the dentist can tell you if they’re a 12-year old’s or an adult’s. What gives it away? The presence of mamelons, which are rounded bumps on the edges of newly erupted teeth. […]

Give a dentist two teeth of the same type and size, and there may be a way that the dentist can tell you if they’re a 12-year old’s or an adult’s. What gives it away? The presence of mamelons, which are rounded bumps on the edges of newly erupted teeth.

Not all irregular edges are due to mamelons, a natural appearance to a child’s teeth. Sometimes, jagged teeth are related to chipping. Keep reading to find out how dentists can address jagged teeth in all ages.

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Mamelons on teeth Credit: Marcos Gridi-Papp / CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)

You’ll usually start to see your child’s first permanent teeth come in at around 7 years old with most teeth — other than wisdom teeth — coming in before 12 years old.

However, you’ll likely notice these teeth will look quite different from your front teeth. Specifically, they often appear disproportionately larger and also have bumpy-like projections on the top.

Mamelons usually occur in permanent or adult teeth. They are most noticeable up until you’re 10 years old, according to a 2020 study. The study also reported that mamelons typically go away when you’re about 25 years old.

So, what happens to mamelons? Dentists believe these jagged areas simply wear down with time. Your efforts when eating and just all-around using your teeth makes mamelons less noticeable as you age.

It’s true that some people do retain mamelons for a longer time period. This tends to be true for people who don’t have a normal bite occlusion, but have more of an open bite occlusion.

People who retain mamelons for a longer time tend to have a bite where their upper and lower front teeth do not overlap. This makes it harder for teeth to rub against each other or bite food effectively, so the mamelons don’t wear down as they usually would.

In children

Because mamelons will likely become less noticeable as your child gets older, you may wish to hold off on any intervention.

You can consult your child’s dentist to ask about the likelihood that mamelons will lessen with time — especially if your child is under 20 years old.

However, cosmetic dentists can usually adjust the mamelons with one of several cosmetic approaches. These include:

  • Bonding. This process involves applying a special resin to the child’s teeth, which helps to shape the teeth. Dentists use bonding to correct irregularly shaped teeth and short teeth.
  • Contouring. This process involves removing a portion of the dental enamel to shape and smooth the teeth’s appearance. Dentists also call this procedure enameloplasty.

If your child has an open bite occlusion, there are treatments available, according to a study from 2016.

Treatments for open bite occlusions depend upon the underlying cause of an open bite. For example, some people have very short front teeth that don’t touch while others have alterations in their back teeth that keep them from touching.

A dentist should carefully evaluate the potential underlying causes before recommending treatments. Some treatments may include:

  • reshaping the teeth so they meet
  • teeth bonding to promote tooth contact
  • orthodontic treatments, such as braces, to correct a person’s bite
  • extracting teeth, sometimes replacing these with dental implants

In rare cases, a doctor may recommend surgery called orthognathic (jaw) surgery to correct bite abnormalities. This would usually only occur if a person’s jaw position was causing:

  • pain
  • problems eating
  • severe cosmetic concerns

In adults

Jagged teeth in adults are usually the result of chipping related to:

  • trauma
  • wear and tear
  • improper dental health

It’s important not to ignore a cracked or chipped tooth because if left untreated, the cracked tooth can further weaken and expose the inner, soft layers of the tooth. This can result in:

  • pain
  • irritation
  • potentially infection

Treatments for chipped or jagged-appearing teeth in adults are a bit different compared to treatments for young people.

  • bonding
  • dental crown
  • veneers

Each of these interventions can improve the cosmetic appearance of the teeth. Your dentist can evaluate your teeth and make recommendations as to what interventions can help improve and strengthen your teeth’s appearance.

Avoiding some habits known to contribute to chipped teeth can help prevent pain and dentist’s bills. Examples include:

  • refraining from chewing on hard objects, such as ice or pens
  • refraining from using your teeth as “openers” or “tools” for boxes, packages, clips, or other items
  • wearing a protective mouthguard or nightguard if you grind your teeth
  • wearing a mouthguard if you engage in any contact sports, such as football or basketball

Some important dental health practices that can help avoid complications include taking care of your teeth through:

  • regular brushing
  • twice-yearly dentist’s visits
  • eating a balanced diet high in vitamins and minerals such as calcium and vitamin D

Jagged teeth due to mamelons are not necessarily a dental concern but they may be a cosmetic concern.

If the presence of mamelons increases feelings of self-consciousness for you or your child, you can talk with a dentist about a cosmetic intervention.

If you have a chipped tooth, you should call your dentist if you notice the following symptoms:

  • increased sensitivity to cold or heat
  • pain
  • swelling around the gum
  • tooth discoloration

These symptoms may indicate the tooth chip has exposed the area near the dental pulp and requires treatment.

Jagged teeth in a child are a normal variation. They tend to become smooth in appearance as a young person gets older.

However, if there are increased feelings of self-consciousness for you or your child about a smile’s appearance or jagged teeth are the result of a chip, a dentist can usually fix the edges by adding dental resin or by filing the edges.

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