Last Friday featured one of the most highly anticipated debuts in recent years: the release of season 2 of Netflix’s cult favorite series: Stranger Things. And with the debut, one of the series’ most serious questions was answered: yes, Dustin finally got his teeth.
This blog contains no spoilers beyond episode 1 of season 2, but if you haven’t seen episode 1, you should watch before reading.
Why Dustin Didn’t Have Teeth in the First Place
Dustin is one of the four friends whose lives get turned upside-down when one of them disappears. But even without the interference of the Demogorgon, these kids didn’t have it easy, as they are constantly bullied at school and when they are out in the neighborhood.
Dustin is bullied in part because he lacks teeth, which is due to cleidocranial dysplasia, a genetic condition which affects the development of bones and teeth. The effects of the condition can literally go from head to toe: they include creating a short skull with plates that don’t fuse until a later age, and flat feet.
But among the most common effects of cleidocranial dysplasia are changes in the way that teeth develop and emerge, including delayed loss of baby teeth and delayed emergence of adult teeth. This is what Dustin has. In the first season, Dustin explains to bullies who are mocking his appearance that he will get his teeth. Now, in the second season, which takes place about a year after the first, his teeth have finally emerged.
Childlike Expression of Pure Joy
Dustin is the true heart of the group in Stranger Things. He’s the one who expresses the most pure delight at Eleven’s powers. He’s also the one who reconciles Mike and Lucas after their fight in season 1. He stands firmly for following the rules of the group and working together equally.
So the pure, childlike expressions of pure joy at his newly emerged teeth are completely in character. He and Lucas are infatuated with a new girl at school, and Dustin says that “she will not be able to resist these pearls,” and finishes with a trilling purr. He does this on several occasions, to the point where you can definitely imagine his friends are starting to get tired of hearing about them, but it’s still a cute and funny expression for those of us in the audience.
False Teeth Representing True Teeth
Dustin had not originally been written to have cleidocranial dysplasia. That was only added when they cast the actor (Gaten Matarazzo) who had the condition. The problem is that not all people with the condition develop the same way. Although in season 1 Dustin says that his teeth are coming in, Matarazzo’s teeth haven’t actually come in. That put producers in the situation where they had to get the actor artificial teeth to play out these scenes. But the teeth look natural, and Matarazzo is obviously delighted with them–that’s why he loves showing them off at every occasion. In real life and on the show Matarazzo wears dentures. He can’t have dental implants, since he’s only 15, and the growth of his jaw is unpredictable and incompatible with dental implants.
Do You Want to Fix Your Smile?
There are many people who wanted Dustin to stay toothless for season 2. After all, his toothless smile does have a certain charm, and it did allow him to spread awareness about his condition. But he’s obviously delighted to have his teeth.
Many people with “distinctive” smiles face this issue. Friends and family want them to maintain their smile as it is, but it’s a lot harder when you’re the one who has to live with people’s responses to your smile, and just the appearance of your own smile in the mirror. In the end, each person has to make this decision for themselves, although they should always listen to and consider the perspectives of friends and family.
Do you have a smile you’re not happy with? Whether that’s due to a genetic condition like cleidocranial dysplasia, dental trauma, or other causes, we can help. Please call (408) 354-5600 today for an appointment with San Jose cosmetic dentist Dr. Nancy Nehawandian at Top Down Dental in Los Gatos.