You may have taken great care of your teeth over the years. You’ve brushed and flossed, kept them clean and white, and for the most part, you’re proud of your smile. The only problem is, there is a slowly growing dark spot right in the center of your smile: a gap in between your front teeth! It may only be a fraction of an inch, but in some circumstances, that gap could feel bigger than the grand canyon.
Fortunately, that gap doesn’t have to be permanent. There are several treatments available for “gapped teeth” and fixing them carries both aesthetic and health benefits for your smile. In this article, we’ll discuss both the causes and treatments of gapped teeth.
What causes gaps between the teeth?
A gap between two teeth is formally known as a “diastema.” These gaps tend to appear between the two upper front teeth, but it’s important to remember that gaps can occur between any two teeth. There are several reasons you or your child might have gapped teeth.
- If there is a mismatch between the size of the jaw bones and the size of the teeth (either one can be too small or too big), then you will experience extra space between teeth or crowding of teeth.
- Missing or undersized teeth can cause neighboring teeth to move and attempt to help close one gap, but this movement creates entirely new gaps.
- An oversized labial frenum, which is the piece of tissue that extends from the inside of your upper lip to the gums, can create a gap. In some situations, it grows too large and passes between the two front teeth and blocks the natural closing of the space between these teeth.
- Bad habits like thumb sucking can pull the front teeth forward and create gaps.
- Spaces can develop if your swallowing reflex does not happen properly. When you swallow, your tongue should press against the roof of your mouth, but some people thrust their tongue forward against their front teeth. As you can imagine, over time, this tongue thrust will cause the front teeth to move and a gap to be created.
- Gum disease causes your jawbone, which supports the teeth, to weaken and recede. Losing bone can cause the teeth to become loose and move.
As you can see, there are several possible reasons for having gaps in between your teeth. Even if the gap doesn’t bother you from an aesthetic perspective, it’s important to get the diastema checked by a dentist in case it is being caused by something sinister like gum disease. Gaps in your teeth could also mean your bite is not functioning properly, which can lead to the painful experience of chipped or broken teeth.
Treatments for Gapped Teeth
Depending on the severity of your gapped teeth, there are several options available for patients looking to close the gap.
Dental bonding is the easiest, quickest, and most economical way to fix the gap between your teeth. The simple procedure involves the application of a tooth-colored resin material to your teeth. The material is shaped to look natural and then hardened with a special light, which ultimately “bonds” it to the tooth to close the gap in your smile.
Bonding can usually be completed in one office visit. Unlike veneers, we don’t need to remove tooth enamel, which means the process can be reversed if necessary.
Although it’s one of the least expensive and simplest options, bonding material is a bit more prone to staining. The procedure is also not as strong as other restorative procedures like veneers, as the bonding material is prone to chipping and breaking off the tooth after several years. However, good care and maintenance of your bond means it can last a long time, and correcting a broken bonding is a simple procedure.
Porcelain veneers are another cosmetic procedure that can fix the gaps in between your front teeth. They are a little more involved than dental bonding, but the procedure is still relatively simple and the results will last for many years.
A veneer is a thin piece of porcelain that has been shaped in a lab to match the shape and color of your teeth. It is placed and bonded over the front of your tooth and acts like a mask, covering up any imperfections or gaps in your teeth. Once bonded, the thin piece of porcelain becomes very sturdy and difficult to break.
Veneers look great and are permanent, but patients should know the process is irreversible. A thin layer of enamel must be removed from the front of your teeth to make room for the veneers, and without that enamel, your teeth need the veneers for protection. Veneers can correct many cosmetic issues, but depending on the cause of the gaps in your teeth, orthodontics might be required.
For more severe cases of diastema, we may need to refer you to an orthodontist. Correcting the gaps in your front teeth isn’t as simple as moving your front teeth. Moving those two teeth will also create gaps in between every other tooth. For this reason, you might require braces for all of your teeth.
But don’t worry, if you’re against having metal brackets on your teeth, there are other options like invisible aligners which are far less noticeable and can even be removed. Orthodontics are a great option for giving your smile a complete makeover, fixing many aesthetic and functional problems. This can lead to a healthier smile and make your teeth easier to clean.
The downside, of course, is that orthodontic treatment will take longer than dental bonding or veneers. But for severe cases, sometimes you can’t get around the extra time.
What are the next steps?
If you have a gap in your teeth, then your next step is to schedule an appointment with your dentist. The best dental treatment for gapped teeth is different for each individual and their needs, and can only be determined by a dental professional. Fixing the gap in your teeth will provide you with both aesthetic and health benefits, so it’s important not to delay.
Here at Longleaf Dental in Albany, Georgia, we love working with patients to restore their smiles. We have extensive experience in closing the gaps for people, and would love to meet you and help your smile. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.