Gaps or spaces between the teeth – known as diastema – can occur anywhere in the mouth, but are often most visible if the gap is between the two upper front teeth. Tooth gaps can vary in both size and shape and can affect both adults and children. When occurring in children, gappy teeth may close up on their own once permanent teeth develop.
While gaps between teeth aren’t generally an issue from a health perspective, some people may wish to fix a tooth gap, especially a gap in the front teeth, through dental treatment in order to achieve a more even, straight smile.
What causes the gap between teeth?
Gaps between your teeth can result from a range of contributing factors. Here are some of the common causes of diastema:
Size of teeth and jaws: Gaps between teeth may form when a person’s teeth are too small for their jaw bone, resulting in teeth that are spaced too far apart. The size of your teeth and jaw bone is often determined by genetics, so diastema can be hereditary and run in families.
Overgrowth of gum tissue: An overgrowth of the tissue that borders your gum line and your two upper front teeth can result in gaps between these two front teeth. The overgrowth causes a separation between the teeth, resulting in a tooth gap.
Childhood habits: Bad habits in childhood, such as thumb-sucking, can lead to gaps between teeth. When children suck their thumb, this puts pressure on the two front teeth, causing them to pull forward.
Incorrect swallowing reflexes: In older children and adults, diastema can result from incorrect swallowing reflexes causing the tongue to push against the front teeth rather than the roof of the mouth. The pressure this places on the teeth can cause a tooth gap to develop.
Gum disease: Teeth gaps can sometimes be caused by gum disease. Inflammation from a gum infection can damage the gums and tissue supporting the teeth, leading to tooth loss and gaps. Symptoms of gum disease include red and swollen gums, loose teeth and bleeding gums – talk to your dentist if you think you may have gum disease.
How can I fix the gap in my teeth or gappy teeth?
If you’re eager to address the gaps in your front teeth or teeth and achieve a more even smile, there are a number of different treatment options for correcting a diastema.
Dental bonding: Dental bonding is the most popular treatment option for filling minor gaps and fixing crooked teeth. This treatment involves the application of a tooth-coloured resin on the teeth, which is molded and smoothed in order to match the surrounding teeth.
Orthodontic treatment: Wired braces are a common way to correct gaps between teeth. They work by putting pressure on the teeth in order to slowly move them together and close the gaps. Invisible aligners such as Invisalign® treatment can also fix gaps between teeth, so talk to your Apple Dental practitioner about the best treatment option for you.
Dental veneers: A dental veneer is a thin, hardwearing layer of ceramic that is bonded to the surfaces of your front teeth. As veneers can cover spaces between teeth, they help you achieve a gap-free smile.
Oral surgery: If your diastema is caused by the gums above your two upper front teeth overextending, oral surgery may be recommended to remove excess tissue and correct the gap. You may still need braces to fully close larger gaps.
Our dental practitioners can chat with you about your options for closing gaps between your teeth in order to achieve a perfect smile. Contact us today to make an appointment.