After he was cast to play the role of Dustin Henderson in Stranger Things, Gaten Matarazzo’s Teeth soon became one of the talking points regarding the hit science-fiction TV series on Netflix. It would later surprise fans to learn that the teeth were not part the show’s make-up for his role as Henderson (who is known in the series for his strong friendship with Steve Harrington) but that his teeth were that way as a result of a real-life condition.
Unsurprisingly, fans became curious to know more about Gaten Matarazzo’s teeth and the condition that made it look the way it did. Here are all the facts to know about why Matarazzo’s teeth are the way they are.
What Happened to Gaten Matarazzo’s Teeth?
On the 8th of September 2002 in Little Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey, Gaten Matarazzo was born with a rare natural-born disability known as Cleidocranial dysostosis, commonly referred to as CCD.
A genetic condition, CCD, is so rare that it affects an average of one in 1 million people, although experts argue that because it can be quite difficult to diagnose, it might affect more people than are known or reported. Though CCD is more often than not as a result of a genetic disorder – a defect in the RUNX2 gene that aids in bone formation, there have been cases that have occurred as a result of a fresh mutation.
CCD affects the development of the bones and teeth; a baby who has the condition would have the soft spot on his/her skull take a longer time to develop. Also, there would be the presence of extra teeth in the gums which never grow out and would in most cases require surgery to pull them out to give way for the development of adult teeth – this is basically why Gaten Matarazzo’s teeth appear to be missing in the first season of Stranger Things.
A person with CCD also has his/her collar bone absent which makes their shoulders appear shorter and they are also able to pull their shoulders closer together than normal. Usually, the bones that form the jaw and face structure are affected.
Gaten Matarazzo’s Teeth Influenced His Breakthrough Role
Though CCD affects bone and teeth formation, its effect doesn’t go beyond that; the life span or intelligence is in no way affected; thus the child, with the exception of the poor development of his bones which could make him shorter and of course, the late growth of adult teeth, would grow like every other child. For this reason, Gaten Matarazzo was able to grow and have aspirations like every other person, with his aspiration being acting.
Gaten Matarazzo began acting in 2011 at the age of eight, starting with parts in stage plays. As a result of the CCD, he found it difficult to land roles he desired, but fortunately, Gaten Matarazzo’s Teeth would turn out to be his lucky charm to landing him the role of Dustin Henderson in Stranger Things which became his breakthrough role.
While watching his audition tape, the creators of the show, known as The Duffer Brothers, were fascinated by his talents and more so by the way his shoulders moved when he stretched. Also observing Gaten Matarazzo’s teeth, The Duffer Brothers asked about Matarazzo’s condition which they further asked if it could be incorporated as part of the show. Matarazzo agreed and was also okay with the creator’s request of whether other kids in the show could bully him because of the condition. In real life, Matarazzo had already experienced bullying as a result of his CCD.
Gaten Matarazzo has since gone through at least three surgeries to pull down his real teeth. The young actor now sports pearly whites which he is not embarrassed to publicly reveal are fake teeth as seen in the Instagram post which he made to give his fans a first look.
Gaten Matarazzo has long put his influence to good use by raising awareness about CCD and has been referred to as the CCD protagonist. He is an ambassador for CCD Smiles, a charity organization that raises awareness and money to help with the dental surgery of kids suffering from CCD.
Matarazzo often reminds his fans via social media why they should donate to the cause and also has a line of T-Shirts whose entire proceeds are donated to the organization.