A gap between the teeth is also known as a diastema. While these can occur between any two teeth, they are most commonly found between the top front teeth. There are a number of reasons why this may occur, and a number of dental treatments are available to correct this issue.
What are the causes of a tooth gap?
A tooth gap can be caused by a number of different issues:
- Mismatched teeth and jaw – when the size of the teeth do not match well with the size of the jaw bones, spaces between the teeth can develop.
- Missing or undersized teeth – this is most common with the upper lateral incisors, which are located next to the upper front teeth.
- Oversized labial frenum – the labial frenum is a piece of tissue that extends from the inside of the upper lip to the gum. When this grows incorrectly, it can pass between the upper front teeth, preventing them from naturally closing together
- Personal habits – over time, personal habits such as thumb sucking can pull the front teeth forward and cause a gap to form.
- Poor reflexes – a poor swallowing reflex may cause a gap between teeth. If your tongue presses against your front teeth instead of the roof of your mouth when you swallow, the pressure can gradually push the front teeth forward and cause spaces to develop.
- Periodontal disease – if you have begun to experience gum and bone loss as a result of untreated periodontal disease, your teeth can become loose, creating gaps between them.
- Temporary gaps – children will often have temporary gaps as their baby teeth fall out. These spaces should close as the permanent teeth adjust into the correct positions.
How are tooth gaps treated?
In some cases, a tooth gap is only a symptom of a larger set of problems that will require orthodontic treatment. In other cases, the gap may be the only issue that needs to be fixed. There are a number of treatments available to fix this issue, and which one you receive will depend on your specific situation.
If you have multiple gaps, or a tooth gap combined with poor tooth alignment, orthodontic treatments may be your best option. Regardless of where your diastema is located, you will need to wear a full set of braces, both upper and lower. This is because orthodontics move your teeth, which affects your entire mouth.
If your labial frenum is causing the gap, you may require a dental surgery known as a frenectomy. When performed on a younger child, the frenectomy will allow the space between the teeth to close naturally. If the frenectomy is performed on an older child or adult, further treatment with orthodontics may be required to close the gap.
If your diastema is caused by periodontal disease, you will need periodontal treatment by a dentist or gum specialist. Once your gums are healthy again, orthodontics can be used to move the teeth into place. A splint can attach teeth to other teeth in order to prevent them from moving again. In some cases, a dental bridge may need to be used to close the spaces.
When teeth are too small, they may be built up using dental bonding, or your dentist may recommend dental crowns, veneers, or Lumineers. If you are missing teeth, dental implants, a partial denture, or a fixed dental bridge may be used to close the space. The treatment recommended for you will vary depending on your individual situation.
Are diastema treatments permanent?
If your tooth gap has been closed using dental repair or orthodontics, it will usually stay closed. To ensure that your treatment is permanent however, continue to wear your retainers for as long as directed by Dr. Mabry. In some cases, the backs of your teeth may be attached to your other teeth with dental composite in order to prevent them from moving. You will need to maintain a regular schedule of dental visits to ensure that your dental work remains in good condition, and to allow us to check and ensure that your teeth are not beginning to move apart again.