Netflix’s Stranger Things character Dustin Henderson played by Gaten Matarazzo
When Gaten Matarazzo’s character in Stranger Things, Dustin Henderson, burst onto screens when the show launched on Netflix in 2016, he was originally missing some teeth.
While many thought nothing of it, The Duffer Brothers, who created the show wrote a scene into that debut season where he explained why to a pair of ignorant bullies. It appears the character suffers from a condition called Cleidocranial Dysplasia.
However, giving the character this condition wasn’t simply story-telling as Gaten, who turns 20 today, suffers from the condition in real life. While he now boasts perfect front teeth he has admitted they are not real posting an Instagram selfie in 2016 with the caption: “Just letting you guys know. These teeth are fake. #toothless.”
During an appearance on American TV show The Doctors, the young actor, who had enjoyed a successful stage career before being cast in his most famous role to date, explained that once he got the part, the directors asked if they could incorporate the condition in a “realistic way”.
He said they wanted “unique” characters who “had something realistic and personal”.
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According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, Cleidocranial dysplasia is a rare genetic condition that affects teeth and bones, such as the skull, face, spine, collarbones and legs.
The bones in people with CCD can form differently and might be more fragile than normal. Certain bones such as collarbones may be absent which is where the name comes from.
The “Cleido” part of the name refers to the collarbones and “cranial” refers to the skull. Skull and collarbone abnormalities, along with dental abnormalities, are the main features of CCD.
About one million people worldwide suffer from the condition, which affects all genders equally. CCD has no impact on cognitive function or intellect.
The young actor has spoken out about how messages he received from fans following the release of Stranger Things made him appreciate the Duffer Brothers for including it.
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“I have a very mild case so it doesn’t affect me as much, but it can be a very difficult condition to have,” he told People.
“The feedback has been great. A lot of people were messaging me saying, ‘You made me feel better about myself, that you can show that you have this condition on TV and embrace it’.
“I feel like I’m raising awareness for it. It makes me feel good.”
Gaten has undergone multiple surgeries for the condition including several to remove excess teeth and also pull down his real teeth so that they will grow in, and he always keeps fans updated when he has a procedure in order to further highlight it.
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