Dustin Henderson, with his curly hair, gadgets, and wisecracks, quickly became a fan favorite character on Stranger Things. His amusing grin showcasing a mouthful of teeth was an iconic part of his charm.
So when season 3 premiered in 2019, many fans were shocked to see a very different smile on Dustin’s face. Gone were his prominent front teeth, replaced by a pronounced gap.
Viewers were puzzled – what happened to Dustin’s teeth? Where did those pearly whites go? Why does everyone’s favorite geek suddenly have only a few teeth left?
This jarring change became one of the biggest talking points around Stranger Things season 3. Dustin’s missing teeth sparked heated debate among fans and critics.
Some complained that his lack of teeth was too distracting or unrealistic. Others argued it was a natural representation of adolescence. But everyone agreed – Dustin’s new gap-toothed grin demanded an explanation.
In this article, we’ll explore the mystery behind Dustin’s sudden toothlessness. We’ll examine possible reasons his smile changed so drastically, from normal biology to more sinister influences. We’ll also look at how this reflects Dustin’s maturity, along with fan reaction and theories about the future of his teeth.
So get ready to sink your teeth into this juicy story! Let’s investigate what exactly happened to Dustin Henderson’s signature smile, and why it matters so much to fans…
Why doesn’t Dustin have teeth in season 3?
One of the most shocking character changes in Stranger Things season 3 was Dustin Henderson’s sudden lack of teeth. His wide, gap-toothed grin led many fans to ask: what happened to Dustin’s teeth? Let’s analyze some possible explanations for this surprising development.
A Recap of Dustin’s Smile
First, a recap of the progression of Dustin’s smile over the previous seasons:
- In season 1, Dustin sports a mouthful of shiny white teeth. His big grin is an endearing part of his goofy charm.
- In season 2, Dustin is missing a couple of teeth here and there. This seems natural, as he’s likely started losing some baby teeth. But overall, he still has most of his teeth.
- When season 3 premieres, Dustin’s teeth are almost all gone. He reveals a pronounced gap when he smiles due to having lost the majority of his bottom teeth. Only a few top teeth remain.
This sudden change between seasons 2 and 3 surprised many fans. What could have caused Dustin’s teeth to disappear so abruptly?
Explanation 1: Dustin is Growing Up
The most plausible explanation is simply that Dustin is growing up.
Losing baby teeth and getting adult teeth is a natural rite of passage in childhood development. The timing varies for each child, but generally peaks around ages 9-12.
Here are the characters’ ages over the course of the show:
- In season 1, the kids are 12 years old.
- In season 2, they are 13.
- In season 3, they have just turned 14.
So it makes sense that Dustin would rapidly lose the last of his baby teeth right around season 3 at age 14. This fits with the normal timeline of teeth replacement in adolescents.
Dustin’s sudden lack of teeth demonstrates his transition into young adulthood. Like the show itself, little Dustin Henderson is all grown up!
How Teeth Replacement Typically Progresses
To better understand Dustin’s specific dental timeline, let’s look at how teeth replacement typically progresses:
- Early signs: Around age 6-7, children’s teeth may start becoming loosely rooted as the adult teeth develop underneath.
- First teeth lost: Most kids lose their first teeth around age 6-8. These are often the front bottom teeth.
- Peak tooth loss years: Ages 9-12 are when kids tend to lose the most teeth. They may lose up to 3-4 teeth in a month during this time.
- Last teeth lost: By age 12-14, kids begin losing their final baby teeth as the adult teeth take over.
- Adult teeth fully in: Most or all adult teeth are fully grown in between ages 17-21.
Based on this, it makes sense that Dustin would have lost the bulk of his remaining baby teeth between seasons 2 and 3 at ages 13-14. This is the prime time for losing those last stray baby teeth.
Close Inspection of Dustin’s Smile
A closer look at Dustin’s grin in season 3 shows:
- He is missing all of his bottom teeth except possibly 1-2 back teeth.
- On top, he has his prominent front two teeth, as well as a couple of smaller teeth towards the back.
So while he may only have around 4-6 teeth total, they are positioned in a way that makes the gap look more extreme.
Do Boys Lose Teeth Later?
An interesting facet is that girls often lose their baby teeth earlier than boys. The timeline can be up to 6 months to 1 year later in boys.
So the fact that Dustin lost his teeth a bit later than his female friend Eleven is also consistent with normal biological development patterns.
This further confirms that Dustin’s teeth disappearance stemming from adolescent growth and delayed male timeline makes sense.
How Other Kids Handle Missing Teeth
Losing baby teeth is traumatic for some kids, but others take it in stride. Dustin seems unfazed by his tooth loss, showcasing his goofy new grin with confidence.
Some kids have difficulty speaking or eating with missing teeth. But clever Dustin adapts quickly, devising creative ways to eat even sticky foods like pizza.
Dustin’s gap-toothed smile even becomes a “trademark” look that his friends rib him about affectionately. This matches how many close-knit groups of friends gently tease each other during puberty.
Explanation 2: The Upside Down?
Could Dustin’s dental issues instead be linked to the sinister parallel dimension known as the Upside Down?
Exposure to the Upside Down has posed health hazards before, most notably Will’s “now-memories” and visions of the alternate reality. Perhaps it also has long-term effects on teeth?
Dustin did have direct contact with the Upside Down through the gate at Hawkins Lab in season 1. He also took care of Dart, who originated from the Upside Down, in season 2.
However, his friends like Will and Mike had equal or greater Upside Down exposure without suffering tooth decay. So while an interesting theory, this seems unlikely.
Explanation 3: Poor Dental Care?
What about poor dental hygiene? Could Dustin simply be neglecting proper brushing and dental visits?
This doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. Dustin shows no other signs of tooth problems – no discoloration or cavities are visible on his remaining teeth.
His friends also eat similar junk food diets without tooth issues. Unless Dustin has a secret candy addiction, tooth decay due to poor care is doubtful!
The Duffer Brothers Weigh In
Ultimately, the Duffer Brothers confirmed that Dustin’s tooth loss resulted naturally from adolescent development:
“Like most young teens, Dustin is losing his baby teeth. This sometimes happens in awkward patterns which can be embarrassing at that age.”
The show creators verify what made the most sense all along – Dustin’s gap-toothed grin is just a rite of passage for many kids his age.
Fan Reactions: Love It or Hate It?
Fans had lots of opinions on Dustin’s sudden lack of teeth when season 3 premiered. Some loved his goofy new look:
- “Dustin’s smile is so endearing now!”
- “Those sweet gapped teeth are everything.”
Not everyone was a fan, though:
- “I can’t get over how distracting Dustin’s teeth are now. Or lack thereof.”
- “It just looks so unrealistic for a kid that age to have so few teeth. Takes me out of the story.”
Regardless of aesthetics, most fans understood the maturity behind Dustin’s dental change, even if they disliked the look itself.
What Does This Mean for Dustin Going Forward?
Will Dustin get his teeth back eventually?
If following the typical dental development timeline, Dustin should have most or all of his permanent adult teeth grown in by ages 17-21.
So in future seasons set a few years later, we can expect Dustin’s adult teeth to fill out his smile again. But the show may continue finding creative ways to depict Dustin’s awkward tween years:
- In season 4 set 1-2 years after season 3, Dustin may still have gaps as his adult teeth come in.
- By the time Dustin is 16+ in potential later seasons, he’ll likely have his familiar full grin back again.
Regardless of how his smile matures, toothless or toothy, Dustin Henderson remains the same lovable, wisecracking teen we know and love.
Why Dustin’s Teeth Represent Growing Pains
In the end, Dustin’s dental issues symbolize growing pains – both literally and figuratively.
On the surface, his tooth loss represents the physical maturation process. His gappy grin shows that Dustin is no longer a cute little kid – he’s becoming a young man right before the audience’s eyes.
But it also demonstrates the emotional growing pains of adolescence. We see Dustin struggle with feelings of rejection and wanting to fit in and impress girls.
Dustin’s missing teeth may draw unwanted attention, but they show he can ultimately rise above superficial shortcomings with confidence and humor.
For viewers, Dustin’s jarring toothlessness represents the loss of innocence and letting go of childhood. Both the character and show are maturing into new phases. It reminds us that change is inevitable, but can also bring newfound strength.
Losing teeth may be tough for any kid, fictional or real. But Dustin shows that a few gaps can’t stop his signature smile or the wisdom beyond his years. Even without teeth, he demonstrates resilience through one of life’s most universal coming-of-age hurdles.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some common questions about Dustin’s lack of teeth in Stranger Things season 3:
Q: Why did Dustin lose so many teeth for season 3?
A: He lost his remaining baby teeth because he’s at the age kids typically lose all their baby teeth as adult teeth come in. The Duffer Brothers confirmed this is normal adolescent development.
Q: Does Dustin only have like 2 teeth now?
A: No, he has more than 2 teeth left – he still has a few top teeth that are visible. But he’s missing most of his lower teeth, giving the illusion of having just 2 teeth.
Q: Did the Upside Down make Dustin’s teeth fall out?
A: Unlikely. He was exposed to the Upside Down in seasons 1-2 but didn’t lose teeth until season 3 at the typical age. So real-world biology is the likely cause.
Q: Will Dustin ever get his teeth back?
A: Yes, he should get his adult teeth within the next few years, so future seasons will likely show him with a full set of teeth again. The timing matches up with the normal dental development timeline.
Q: Do fans like toothless Dustin?
A: Opinions vary – some fans find it distracting or unrealistic, while others think it’s endearing and relatable. But most appreciate how it represents Dustin maturing into adolescence along with the show itself.
Dustin’s sudden lack of teeth in Stranger Things 3 startled fans and sparked debate. But his missing pearly whites simply reflect growing pains, both the normal biological process and emotional journey into adulthood.
While jarring at first, Dustin’s toothless grin represents a rite of passage for many tweens. He shows maturity and self-confidence by embracing this vulnerable transitional period.
For viewers, it signifies the inevitability of change. Dustin must grow up and leave childhood behind, ushering in the next phase for both character and show.
Yet some things remain constant – like Dustin’s spirit and humor. Even without his teeth, his ever-optimistic smile perseveres as a reminder of holding onto light even in life’s most awkward phases.
So don’t be sad about Dustin’s teeth being gone. Consider it a symbolic reflection of growing into one’s best self. The kid is alright – toothless or not!