Have you noticed that one of your teeth is especially sharp and pointy, and the point doesn’t seem to go the direction it’s supposed to? Instead of pointing down, it points back and keeps catching your tongue, resulting in regular sharp pricks of the tongue.

Native American male with unique smile, more common a talon cusp

What Is a Talon Cusp?

A talon cusp is a rare trait found in about 1% of the population. It’s when your tooth grows an extra cusp, usually from the back of your top front teeth.  an extra projection from your tooth, typically from the back of your front teeth, the incisors. Most often it’s one of the teeth that’s off to the side. If can grow either from the middle of the back surface of the tooth or backward from the top of the tooth. It’ll normally make your teeth look like a “T” when looking directly at the chewing surface.

This is a genetic characteristic most common seen in males, and developing it is more likely for people of certain ancestries. It’s very rare in people of European or African ancestry. In people of Asian ancestry, the frequency is about 1-2%. In people with Inuit and other Native American ancestry, the frequency is about 3-4%.

How Can a Talon Cusp Be Treated?

Often, there’s no need whatsoever to treat a talon cusp. It depends on whether it bothers you and on the structure of the cusp. If it doesn’t bother you, and it’s one that just contains enamel, you can leave it alone until it wears away or breaks. Other times, the talon cusp may contain pulp, which may make it sensitive and vulnerable. If the talon cusp breaks off, it can expose the pulp, which can be very painful and expose you to infection risk.

How the talon cusp is treated also depends on the structure. If it’s one with only enamel, we can remove it and cover the spot with tooth-colored fillings. If the talon cusp contains pulp, we may have to put a dental crown on the tooth to protect the nerve.

Do you have this or another feature of your teeth that you would like to get removed? We can help. For an appointment with a cosmetic dentist in Spokane please call (509) 532-1111.