Mind The Gap

At Smilefocus we often see patients, both young and old, who are worried about gaps and spaces between their teeth. This interesting phenomenon is referred to as ‘diastema’ or more commonly known as tooth gaps and it can occur for several reasons, from natural to behavioral.

Diastema often appear between the two upper front teeth. This condition is normal and happens to many people, even celebrities such as Madonna, Mike Tyson and Eddie Murphy, who are known to have tooth gaps.

Common Causes

Children are the most commonly affected by diastema, albeit temporary and it should correct itself once the baby teeth start to fall out. In adults however, diastema is most likely to be permanent and will require treatment to remove the gap. Depending on the size of the gap veneers might be the solution, or orthodontics, possibly clear aligner therapy. The most common cause of diastema is the sizing mismatch between the size of the jaw and that of the teeth.  Either the size of the jaw is too big for the teeth or the teeth are too small for the jaw. Other than a sizing discrepancy, different reasons as to why gaps or spaces may form include:

  • Periodontitis. This is an advanced form of gum disease which results in the loss of bone support and inflammation of the gums, causing the affected teeth to be loose and mobile. Gaps will start to appear due to this mobility and tend to worsen if left untreated. A visit to the dentist is highly recommended. More about Periodontal Diseases.
  • Oversized labial frenum. Simply put, this refers to an extra piece of fleshy gum that runs down between the two front teeth. Depending on the size of this soft tissue, a gap may appear if it extends beyond the normal position and passes between the two front teeth. When this happens it blocks the natural closing of the space between the teeth.
  • Oral habits. Daily habits such as thumb sucking and tongue thrusting may lead to diastema. Thumb sucking can pull the front teeth forward and some people develop a habit of pressing the tongue against the front teeth while swallowing food, causing gaps to appear.

Treatment of Diastema

There are several ways to correct diastema, with orthodontics being the most common treatment to eliminate gaps. Dentists usually recommend the use of traditional braces or clear aligners such as Invisalign to move the teeth together.

If the gap between your teeth is relatively small, there are other available treatments you can consider.

  • Dental Bonding. A resin-shaped substance is applied to the affected teeth, sculptured and shaped to fill in the gap. This quick process can be completed in just one visit
  • Dental Veneers. Fixing bigger gaps may require reshaping of the affected tooth. This treatment involves the bonding of thin pieces of porcelain over the top of the teeth to correct gaps, irregular shapes, chips and stains. Read more on Dental Veneers.

However, if gaps appear due to an oversized labial frenum, a minor surgery is required before the application of braces. Otherwise, the gaps will recur after the removal of the appliance. This surgical procedure is called a ‘frenectomy’ and it involves the removal of the frenum, which is the excess soft tissue or gum flesh. Call us at 6834 0877 or schedule an appointment if you are concerned about diastema and wish to correct it. Our dentists will evaluate and determine the best possible treatment for you or your child.

 

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