young girl in dental chair being examined for distema gap space between teeth

Gap Between Teeth – The Causes And Treatments For Diastema

Despite their prevalence, gaps in your teeth can be a problem. You might not like their appearance or the feeling of getting food trapped between your teeth and gums. The good news is that this gap does not have to last forever.

young girl in dental chair being examined for distema gap space between teeth

What is Diastema?

The term diastema is a reference to the space or gap between teeth. Gaps like these can exist anywhere inside the mouth but are most noticeable between the top front teeth. This condition affects adults as well as children. Children may experience gaps that disappear when permanent teeth become fully grown.

Types of Diastema / Teeth Gaps

oral surgeon pointing to model of tooth in socket

Many factors can cause diastema. This condition can be related to the size and shape of the jawbone and teeth. When a person's jaw bone is too small, gaps may develop. Too many teeth can result in gaps. Genetics can influence the size of your teeth and jawbone, so there is a possibility of inheritance of diastema.

 

The following could be the cause of a diastema:

  • Gaps may form between teeth if an individual's jawbone is too small compared to their teeth. This issue is often the case with the upper lateral incisors. These are the teeth located on either side of the top front teeth. For example, if the upper lateral incisors are absent or small, a space can form between the front teeth.
  • Labial frenum refers to the tissue section inside the top lip running to the gum area above the top front teeth. This tissue can create a space between the teeth if it is substantial in size.
  • Lip and thumb sucking and other similar behaviors push teeth forward by placing pressure on the front teeth. The pressure can cause diastemas.
  • Temporary diastemas can occur when children lose their baby or primary teeth. These gaps close when their adult or permanent teeth emerge.
  • Gum disease can also cause diastemas. The inflammation can cause damage to the gums and tissues supporting the teeth and eventually lead to tooth loss and gapping between teeth. Tooth migration is an indicator of advanced gum disease.
  • When missing teeth cause diastema, extensive dental work such as dental implants or a bridge is necessary.
  • Tongue placement. Although it is more common to have a space between your front upper teeth, the same can also occur between the front lower teeth. A diastema in the front lower teeth mainly results from tongue thrust, when the tongue presses too far forward into your mouth.

How to Fix a Gap Between Your Front Teeth

Even if you don't find gaps in your teeth that bother you visually, it is essential to have the diastema examined by a dentist. A dental examination can help determine if gum disease or another serious condition may be the culprit. A bad bite can also lead to gaps in your teeth.

When Should You See a Dentist?

pediatric dentist patientIf you are worried about your child's diastema, it is a good idea to consult your dentist. Orthodontists should evaluate all children under the age of 7. An orthodontist or dentist can diagnose the root cause of the problem and recommend treatment if necessary.

A diastema treatment is perhaps unnecessary, particularly if there is a mismatch in the jawbone's size and the teeth or primary tooth loss. However, a dentist can help you determine the best way to close your gap if it is not necessary for medical reasons. These are some of the options available to close such gaps.

Treatment Options to Fix Gaps Between Teeth

  • A dental professional can fill a gap between your teeth with restorative treatment, such as porcelain veneers, composite bonding, or crowns. Dental implants and bridgework can restore larger spaces where missing teeth are present.
  • Many dental professionals use modern orthodontics to correct bite problems and reposition crooked or overcrowded teeth.
  • Braces are a popular treatment for diastema. They place pressure on the teeth and gradually move them together.
  • Invisalign aligners are perfect for straightening crooked teeth and gaps. While small spaces can be closed with veneers and bonding, Invisalign is the best option to fix significant gaps. Invisalign, a clear aligner, corrects your teeth without you knowing it. It's more expensive than traditional braces, but it's still cheaper than traditional ones.
  • Tooth bonding is an excellent option for small gaps. The tooth-colored resin is applied to the tooth and then hardened with a special light. Dental bonding can be stain-resistant but not as much as crowns.
  • A porcelain veneer is a thin shell that can bond to your front tooth. The dentist will attach the dental veneer after removing a small amount of enamel.
  • People often select dentures that have lost several teeth or if their oral health is at risk. These dentures can be removable implants if you have tiny gaps.
  • Implants can either be fixed or removable and match your natural teeth. Dentists recommend implants for people with a wide gap between their teeth. Implants are a replacement for natural teeth. Only skilled professionals can perform this procedure.
  • A frenectomy is a procedure that removes excess tissue from the mouth to treat diastema caused by an overly large labial frenum. Braces may be required for adults and older children to eliminate the gap. However, the space might close naturally in younger children.

Diastema Prevention

No one can prevent every diastema. However, there are many ways to decrease the chance of developing a gap. You can help your children stop sucking their thumbs and teach them proper swallowing skills. Regular brushing and flossing are essential. Two visits to the dentist are recommended each year for cleanings and examinations.

Brought To You By: Dr. Julio C. Rosado

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