Do you have a teeth gap? Many people have gaps in their teeth – Michael Strahan is famous for the gap between his front teeth. However, not everyone embraces gap teeth like Mr. Strahan. If you have spaces between your teeth, it can be a distraction and may impact your oral health. There are a few different ways to close the gaps in your teeth to improve both the appearance and health of your smile.
What Causes Teeth Gaps?
A tooth gap is called a diastema and it occurs for a variety of reasons. The most common gap occurs between the two top front teeth, but diastema can occur anywhere in the mouth. Most children with baby teeth have diastema but these gaps can close once the permanent or adult teeth come in. Gaps can be present from childhood or spaces can begin to appear in adulthood. Some of the causes of diastema include:
- Tongue thrusting
- Gum disease
- Large frenulum
- Missing teeth
- Small teeth
Gapped teeth can be an issue if it effects speech or makes it difficult to keep teeth clean. Food can become caught it gaps, increasing risk for decay and gum disease. However, even if gaps do not impact function or oral health, many people want to close teeth gaps for aesthetic reasons.
Solutions for Gapped Teeth
The treatment for closing a teeth gap can depend on the cause of the gap. While you can hide gap teeth with cosmetic dental treatments, there are options for treatment of the cause of diastema. A dentist can help determine the cause of teeth gaps and offer treatment solutions, from orthodontics and surgery to restorative or cosmetic dentistry.
- Tongue Thrusting Treatment
- Tongue thrusting can cause tooth gaps due to pressure on the front teeth. The tongue pushes against the teeth when swallowing, which can impact their position. Treatment for tongue thrusting can include exercises to train the tongue and use of oral appliances to stop this habit in children.
- Gum Disease Prevention and Treatment
- Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss, and it can result in gaps between the teeth. Removing plaque and tartar can prevent gum disease – both home oral care and routine teeth cleanings are the best way to keep gum tissue healthy. Treatment of gum disease can help improve gum and oral health. However, it may not close teeth gaps once they have occurred.
- Frenulum Surgery
- The frenulum is the connective tissue that ties the upper lip to the gums. If it is large, it can cause a gap between the front teeth when the permanent teeth come in around age 5-6. This is often a genetic condition and frenulum surgery or a frenectomy is used to remove the excess tissue to allow the front teeth to come in together. This is a quick, outpatient procedure that uses surgical scissors to snip the frenulum.
- Tooth Replacement
- A missing tooth can result in shifting of the surrounding teeth, causing gaps. To prevent teeth gaps and to close the gap caused by a lost tooth, restorative dentistry can be used to replace missing teeth. Dental implants are the premium option for replacing a tooth. Other options include partial dentures or a dental bridge, filling in the gaps caused by missing teeth.
- Braces for Gaps
- When smaller teeth or malocclusions cause gaps between the teeth, orthodontic treatment may be recommended. Braces for gaps can be used with adolescents, teens and adults. For those who do not want to wear metal braces, clear orthodontic aligners may be used to close gaps and straighten teeth. Both aligners and braces for gaps can require one to two years of treatment to straighten and shift teeth, plus a retainer will be needed to maintain the results long-term.
- Tooth Gap Filler
- A quick way to hide gaps between teeth is with dental bonding. Composite resin can be color-matched to the tooth and shaped as tooth gap filler. Adding dental bonding to the inside of each tooth can close gaps – this is a popular treatment for hiding a gap between the front teeth. The filler for gaps is almost invisible and it can last for 10-15 years before it needs to be replaced.
- Hiding a Teeth Gap
- Dental veneers, dental crowns or Lumineers can all be used to hide gaps and other dental flaws. Gaps caused by small teeth or orthodontic issues can be hidden with cosmetic dental crowns or caps. Porcelain veneers or Lumineers can be placed on the front of teeth to portray straight, aligned teeth. However, veneers will not close the gaps or help with oral health.
If you have teeth gap problems or your child has gap teeth, talk to your dentist about solutions. There are options to close or hide gaps to improve the appearance of your smile.
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