A gap or space between two teeth is called a diastema, and is most common between the upper front teeth.
Gaps between baby teeth are often just part of a child’s natural development; teeth usually have spaces between them when they first come through with these gaps closing once the canine teeth arrive.
It is important to determine the reason for the gap in order to decide on the appropriate treatment. Other reasons why your child may have a diastema include:
- small teeth or large jaws – some children may have small teeth and hence gaps appear, or large jaws so their normal-sized teeth are too small to fill all the space
- missing teeth or extra teeth – the teeth do not form in the jawbone, or extra teeth in the bone which can prevent other teeth coming through, leaving a gap
- lingual fraenum or “tongue-tie” – this is the small fold of tissue that attaches the tongue to the bottom of the mouth. In some cases of severe tongue-tie (where a restrictive fraenum prevents the tongue from poking out past the lips) a gap can form in the front teeth of the lower jaw.
- labial fraenum or “lip-tie” – this a fold of tissue that runs from the lip down in between the front teeth This can cause a gap to persist between the teeth.
In many cases, a gap between the upper front teeth closes without any dental intervention, when all the teeth come through.
It is best to seek the advice of your dentist because large gap between the front teeth may not leave enough room for the teeth next to the front teeth to come through and this in turn may cause problems with the bite.
Your dentist can advise you whether treatment is needed and if so, what options are available, and at what age treatment should start. Timing is very important.
Treatment options may include:
- removable appliance – such as a plate. This helps to move the teeth closer together
- fixed appliance – such as braces. Braces are fixed to the front teeth and rubber bands and wires are used to pull the teeth together
- surgery to remove the fraenum may be also be needed, together with the appliance.
Of course if the space is not leading to any other problems it is not always necessary to close it.
If you are concerned – make an appointment today.
Dr Pauline Lee is a dentist at Smilefocus and has experience in treating children including interceptive orthodontics and trauma.