The Gap Between Your Teeth: What is it?
Gaps between your teeth – seen in both adults and children, can have harmful effects on confidence as well as on your oral health.
A diastema is a gap or space between two teeth. There can be gaps between any two teeth, but it is particularly common between the upper front teeth.
Often a cosmetic issue for many patients, there are treatments and certain procedures to reduce the size or close the gap altogether.
What Causes Diastema/Gap teeth?
There is no one clear cause of this oral condition, but it is often caused by several contributing factors.
It all relates to the size of your teeth and jaw in relation to each other, for example, if your teeth are too small for the jaw bone, then teeth are often spaced too far apart. It can also be caused by tongue movement or a tongue tie condition.
Due to genetics, diastema also commonly runs in families making it hereditary.
Otherwise, some cases of diastema can develop as a direct consequence of gum disease, which is an infection that takes place within your gums due to tartar and plaque buildup.
The inflammation of the gums damages the supporting tissue beneath the teeth, which cause gaps or pockets to form in-between teeth.
Treatments for Gap Teeth
The main methods to close space between the teeth are:
- Braces (orthodontic treatment)
- Direct bonding (composite resin)
- Composite veneers
- Porcelain veneers
To close large spaces between the teeth, braces are the best option, especially if other problems are present. These problems include teeth alignment issues and problems with bite (e.g. a crossbite). If the shape, colour and size of the teeth are acceptable, braces will deliver good results. However, if shape, colour or size are not desirable, additional cosmetic treatments (such as veneers) may be necessary afterwards. Wearing braces also needs some patience, as it typically takes 12–18 months to see the results, however, this is often regarded as the most popular of methods. It is especially popular among children and young people as it catches the problem early. Otherwise, it is growing in popularity with the older crowd and comes in many forms. It may also be possible to close the space using clear retainers depending on the severity of the case and jaw positioning.
Direct bonding means adding tooth-coloured filling material to the side of the teeth beside the gap. It is a simple and cost effective treatment. However, if the colour and shape of the teeth are not desirable, the results may be substandard. It also will not fix bigger issues that may be causing the gap between the teeth.
If the gap between the teeth is small to average size (1-3mm) and some discoloration or unfavourable shape is present, this option can provide good results, as the veneers cover the whole surface of the tooth and very good cosmetic outcomes are achievable. Closing gaps between teeth using composite veneers require minimal tooth preparation and are less expensive than porcelain veneers. Again, this cosmetic solution is not for everyone as it does not mend wider issues such as the alignment of teeth and jaw.
Porcelain veneers can mask slightly larger gaps between the teeth and provide excellent cosmetic results because more modifications to the teeth are possible. Also, they are much stronger than composite veneers for areas where bite loads need to be considered. The downside is that they cost more and need slightly more teeth preparation than composite veneers.
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