Mamelons describes a common dental abnormality. The condition itself takes its name from the French word for nipple. This could all be a bit confusing—how does this term relate to teeth, and are mamelons serious?
When present, a dental mamelon appears on the upper or lower central (or lateral) incisors. The mamelon refers to three semicircle protrusions that can be found at the peaks of the teeth, creating a wavelike effect. The protrusions themselves are the so-called "nipples." But surely the peaks of your incisors should have a biting surface that's more-or-less flat?
Most dental mamelons correct themselves, and no medical intervention is necessary. Although it's an irregular formation, it's not a major one, and mamelons are smoothed away through general wear and tear. This is the preferred outcome for mamelons, and this process doesn't compromise the teeth. This means that children with mamelons will find that it's only a temporary condition. So why do some adults still have them?
Mamelons can become a permanent fixture when the upper and lower incisors aren't properly aligned. When the biting surfaces of these opposing teeth don't come into direct contact when your jaw is closed, the condition is known as an anterior open bite. This lack of contact means that the protrusions of the mamelon don't wear away. Is it a problem when mamelons exist in adulthood?
Reasons for Removal
Sometimes it's up to you to decide if it's a problem. When the mamelon doesn't impact your dental health, it might simply be an aesthetic issue. It's unlikely to be considered a medical issue unless the ridges of the mamelons have created an environment where oral bacteria can accumulate. This is improbable and can be overcome by maintaining a high level of oral hygiene.
Methods for Removal
If the decision is made to remove your mamelon, the process is uncomplicated and brief. Your dentist will simply file away the mamelon to create a flat biting surface. In the unlikely scenario that mamelon removal will compromise the strength of your teeth, it can also be possible to cover them. A flat biting surface that encases the mamelons can be constructed using dental bonding (or crowns). In any event, the treatment for mamelons is straightforward. An anterior open bite might also require correction.
No, your teeth don't have nipples (or melons), and a dental mamelon is a minor abnormality that can be corrected with minor treatment. Contact local dentists to learn more about your teeth.