Dustin, played by Gaten Matarazzo, lives with a rare genetic disorder called Cleidocranial Dysplasia. This is a rare condition that affects the development of teeth and bones.
One of the most recent Netflix hits that we binge-watched in less than a week was Stranger Things. This show, directed and produced by the Duffer Brothers (fun fact: they went to college in Orange County), has gained a dedicated fan base for its loveable characters and unique storyline. The story primarily follows a group of young boys working to solve the mysterious disappearance of their friend.
And if you watched the first season, you may have caught the schoolyard bullies making fun of Dustin’s lisp, caused by his lack of teeth. In this scene, Dustin, played by Gaten Matarazzo, explains that he has cleidocranial dysplasia.
What seemed like a small detail, adding to Dustin’s clever and quirky character, draws awareness to this condition that Gaten Matarazzo has in real life.
But what is it?
Cleidocranial dysplasia is a rare genetic disorder that affects the development of the teeth and bones. Some dental abnormalities that this causes is failure to lose baby teeth at the expected time, late eruption of the adult teeth, and even extra teeth. For Matarazzo, that means he still has his baby teeth at 15 years old, and was born without collar bones.
This condition is very rare, and up until a few years ago not many people would talk about it. Which is why we think it is so great that Matarazzo has taken it upon himself to raise awareness for this condition. When he was cast as Dustin in Stranger Things, he said he was getting “a lot of messages and emails online from people who have the condition, saying that it really helps them come out of their shells a little bit.”
Besides highlighting the harsh realities of living in the 80’s (I’m talking about the lack of cell phones in this show), Stranger Things brings attention to an important cause. Matarazzo serves as inspiration and a voice for those suffering from cleidocranial dysplasia.