The Medical Reason Behind Dustin’s Teeth in Stranger Things

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If you’ve ever watched the popular Netflix hit Stranger Things, you’ve probably noticed that Dustin has no front teeth. However, this facial feature wasn’t caused by a special effect — and the actor, Gaten Matarazzo, didn’t lose his teeth in an accident. So, where does this now-famous toothless grin come from?

Dustin’s front teeth are missing because he has cleidocranial dysplasia (CCD). This disorder affects the growth of bones and teeth and may result in several dental problems. While CCD may require surgery in some cases, most people with this condition can live normal lives. 

Let’s explore the medical condition that affects Dustin in Stranger Things in more depth. We’ll go through what causes the condition, how common it is, and whether it requires treatment. 

Why Is Dustin From Stranger Things Missing His Front Teeth?

Gaten Matarazzo on Stranger Things 2 Premiere
Photo 102854151 © Starstock |

Dustin from Stranger Things is played by the American actor Gaden Matarazzo III, who has a rare bone disease known as cleidocranial dysplasia, or CCD. CCD is a disorder that primarily affects the growth of teeth and collarbones.

Apparently, the executive producers of Stranger Things, the Duffer Brothers, were so impressed with Gaden’s audition for the role of Dustin that they approached him to see if they could incorporate his condition into the show, to which he agreed. 

Gaden played the role to perfection because he lived with the condition his whole life, and in an interview, he even said that he enjoyed it when his friends made fun of his condition on the show because it was realistic.

It’s safe to say that incorporating CCD into Dustin’s character paid off as it not only made him stand out but also raised awareness of this rare condition. 

What Is Cleidocranial Dysplasia?

Cleidocranial dysplasia, or CCD, is a rare inherited condition that slows down the development of bones and teeth. This is because of an abnormality with the RUNX2 gene, which is responsible for growing bones and teeth. 

As we see with Dustin, CCD affects the growth of teeth and can result in many dental issues, such as delayed growth of both baby and permanent teeth. In many cases, it may also result in a patient having supernumerary teeth, which basically means having too many teeth. 

What Are the Common Symptoms of Cleidocranial Dysplasia?

There are many different symptoms of Cleidocranial Dysplasia, with the most common ones being narrow, drooping shoulders caused by underdeveloped or absent collarbones, various dental issues, and less height when compared to other family members. 

People who are affected by this disorder may also have soft spots on their skull, where the bones of the skull fail to join correctly. 

As we see with Dustin, the most obvious signs or symptoms of CCD are his toothless grin, absent collarbone, and less height than his co-stars who are of similar age. While there are other symptoms, such as a flat nose and prominent forehead, they vary widely from person to person. 

Dental issues can be broken down into a few main symptoms. These include difficulty losing baby teeth, late development of permanent teeth, extra teeth as well as congestion of teeth in certain areas, which could lead to gum infections.

People affected by CCD are also likely to develop osteoporosis due to having a lower bone density. Osteoporosis is a condition where the patient’s bones become more brittle and weak over time, and this can start at a relatively young age. 

How Many People Are Affected by Cleidocranial Dysplasia?

Cleidocranial Dysplasia affects around a million people around the world, so the chances of getting this disorder are about one in eight thousand. It’s also mainly an inherited disorder that only needs to be passed down from one parent and is a condition that is present before the baby is born.

Many cases of CCD continue to go unnoticed and undetected because the patient may not have severe symptoms. Therefore, having Dustin with Cleidocranial Dysplasia on Stranger Things was important for raising awareness of a condition that often goes undetected. 

Although CCD is not a life-threatening condition, early intervention can greatly improve the chances of preventing major problems like skull deformities. 

Does Cleidocranial Dysplasia Require Surgery?

Not everyone with CCD needs surgery; the condition is not life-threatening and has no impact on the intellectual ability of the patient. 

Surgery is, however, required in cases where the effects of CCD could lead to further medical problems. Let’s take a look at Gaden Matarazzo III, for example: He had to undergo dental surgery when he was younger in order to remove the excess teeth in his mouth. Had he not done the surgery, he could have had gum infections caused by the congestion of teeth. 

Surgery is also required in severe cases where a child will need facial reconstructive surgery to restructure the bones in their faces. There are often cases where surgery is also necessary to repair fractured bones throughout the body. 

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