Gaps or larger spaces between teeth are called diastemas. They can occur anywhere in the mouth, but the most common diastemas are between our front central teeth in the upper jaw. For some people, they can be a source of insecurity with the appearance of their smile.
I have a large gap between my teeth, should I be concerned with it?
Not all gaps are a concern. If the gap has been there ever since you can remember and does not cause you any discomfort or affect the function of your bite it most likely is not an issue. However, if the gap is a new development or causes food impactions or your gums to get sore you should have it examined as it may be a sign of other issues such as periodontal disease.
My child has gaps between all her/his teeth, what should I do?
Spaces between primary (baby) teeth are normal and typically not a cause of any concern. The larger spaces are actually helpful in creating room for the larger adult teeth. In most cases, the spaces will disappear once adult teeth erupt. It is important that your child sees a dentist on a regular basis so that they can monitor the development of their teeth and jaw and their bite.
Why is the gap there?
There are many reasons why you can have gaps between adult teeth. The most common include:
Genetics dictates most of our physical traits. This can include the size and shape of the jaw, the size of the teeth, and even congenitally missing teeth. Any of these can cause the presence of diastemas.
The labial frenum is the soft tissue that attaches the lip to the gums. In some cases that attachment is quite low and can create a pull on the gingival which prevents the front teeth from coming closer together.
Some oral habits can change the position of our teeth and even the shape of our jaw. The most detrimental habits include thumb sucking, prolonged pacifier use, and tongue thrusting. It is important to try to break these habits as soon as possible to minimize their effect on the teeth and the developing jaw.
Teeth can be missing congenitally (never developed) or as a result of dental extraction or accident. In most cases, this will leave a larger gap between the teeth.
What can be done to fix the gap?
This is not an easy answer as it greatly depends on your specific situation. It is best to have your teeth assessed by a dentist to get an accurate recommendation. Some of the treatment options may be:
Orthodontics change the position of the teeth. They can correct spacing issues as well as bite (occlusion) problems. Orthodontic treatment typically involves braces or Invisalign and takes a bit more time (on average between 12 to 24 months). Braces are attached to the teeth and can not be removed until treatment is completed. Invisalign uses a series of custom aligners that are removed while eating and cleaning your teeth.
Dental Crowns and Veneers
Dental crowns and veneers are typically made of porcelain. Veneers cover only the front side of the tooth whereas crowns cover the tooth all the way around. Both options can change the shape, size and even colour of your tooth.
Bonding can alter the shape and size of the tooth. It involves the dentist bonding restorative material to the tooth. The material bonded, shaped, and polished to help to improve the aesthetics of the tooth or teeth. This is typically only possible if the gap is not too large.
Replacing missing teeth
If space is caused by a missing tooth typically the best treatment is to replace the tooth. Teeth can be replaced using a dental bridge or an implant. The bridge consists of a crown that is fused to the false tooth on each side. An implant mimics the actual root of the tooth. The implant is then used as an anchor for the crown of the tooth.
With any dental concern, it is best to seek professional advice. If you have any questions or concerns, we would be happy to help. Give Fairway Dental Clinic a call today.
DISCLAIMER: The advice offered is intended to be informational only and generic in nature. It is no way to offer a definitive diagnosis or specific treatment recommendations for your particular situation. Any advice provided is no substitute for proper evaluation and care by a qualified dentist.