Gap teeth, technically referred to as a diastema, is a space or gap between two teeth that appears most often between the upper front teeth. The extent of the diastema can be either minor and something that you only notice when brushing or flossing, or it can be much larger and something you’ve had since you were a small child.
If you have a gap between your teeth, it’s something that can be corrected, whether your diastema is part of a set of larger problems, or whether you’re simply seeking treatment for appearance reasons only.
Are Gaps Between Teeth Unhealthy?
While many people find gaps in teeth charming and an added characteristic trait to your smile, sometimes, there’s more to it than just aesthetics. Big gaps can lead to poor tooth alignment, bite problems and even pain at any point in your lifetime.
Why Do I Have a Large Gap Between Two Teeth?
Spaces between teeth develop for a few reasons:
Missing or Undersized Teeth
Sometimes teeth are missing or undersized. This happens most often when the teeth next to the two upper front teeth are undersized and cause the two front teeth to grow with a space between them.
Oversized Labial Frenum
A diastema can also be caused by an oversized labial frenum, or the piece of tissue that normally extends from the inside of your upper lip to the gum just above your two upper front teeth, blocking the natural closing of the space between these two teeth and creating a gap.
Thumb sucking can cause the two front teeth to pull forward and create a gap. Tongue thrust also causes the tongue to press against the front teeth when swallowing, putting pressure on the front teeth and pushing them forward over time, causing a space to develop.
Gum disease results in the los of the bone that supports the teeth, and if you have lost a lot of bone the teeth can become loose, or shift causing gaps between the teeth to form.
What Are My Treatment Options for a Diastema?
Depending on the patients age and extent of the gap, treatment options vary from patient to patient depending on the circumstances.
Gaps In Children
Tooth gaps in children are normal and healthy, especially if a child has gaps in their baby teeth. Because children are still growing into their smile, gaps can actually be helpful in giving a child’s mouth some extra room for adult teeth to come in and gaps can even help with overcrowding as they age and more mature teeth come into place.
Gaps In Adults
Not all gaps are a cause for concern. A small gap between the front teeth can be purely cosmetic and only an issue if it makes a patient self conscious. Gaps that are too big or are bordered by unhealthy teeth can cause more serious problems for adults and may be an indication of tongue thrusting.
Regardless of the patients age, only an orthodontist can determine if your gaps will require orthodontic treatment to correct. Treatments to correct gapped teeth include:
- Oral surgery
- Cosmetic dentistry
- Teeth bonding
Is There Any Way to Prevent Gaps from Forming Between Teeth?
Maintaining your gu health is essential to good oral health. Regular flossing and brushing will help to prevent periodontal disease which can lead to bone and tooth loss. If you have tongue thrust, re-learning to swallow by pushing your tongue up against your palate will aid in breaking the habit and preventing the widening of the spaces between your teeth.
If you’re concerned about the gap between your teeth, Thomas Orthodontics can help you in determining if your issue is a simple cosmetic fix, or if orthodontics would be required to correct your smile. Schedule your consultation with us today and be on your way to a gap-free smile!