Gap teeth can happen for many reasons, and many patients seek treatment to achieve a straight, tighter smile.
Your dentist has several options for treating gap teeth, whether with orthodontics, like braces and clear aligners, or cosmetic treatments, like veneers. They can recommend an ideal treatment after assessing your teeth, gums, and jaw.
What Are Gap Teeth?
Gap teeth are also known as diastema, a gap of more than 0.5 millimetres between two teeth. These gaps can develop at any age, typically occurring in children when they lose teeth as they grow.
Gap teeth are not a dental health concern on their own, but a patient may not like the look of their smile, seeking treatment to close a tooth gap.
What Causes Gap Teeth?
While some patients may believe gap teeth occur naturally, there are many possible causes for this misalignment. Factors related to gap teeth include genetics, habits, and gum disease.
Some of the causes of gap teeth include:
- Gum disease: In advanced stages, gum disease can cause tooth loss, leading to gaps between the teeth. If you develop gum disease, common symptoms include red, swollen, bleeding, or receding gums.
- Undersized teeth: Undersized teeth can lead to gaps, typically in the 2 front teeth.
- Tooth size compared to the jawbone: If your teeth are too small when compared to the size of your jawbone, gap teeth can develop. Jaw and tooth size are closely related to genetics.
- Swallowing reflex: Some patients may push their tongue into their teeth when swallowing instead of the roof of their mouth. This consistent pressure on the teeth can cause gaps to form as the teeth shift forward.
- Poor habits: Several habits can lead to gap teeth, such as thumb and lip sucking and tongue thrusting. The pressure placed on the teeth pushes them forward.
- Primary tooth loss: Children can develop gap teeth as they grow, and their primary (baby) teeth fall out. It’s common for these gaps to improve as children age.
While gap teeth can occur for many reasons, they’re typically treatable with help from your dentist.
What Are Your Treatment Options for Gap Teeth?
Treatment isn’t always necessary for gap teeth—in fact, many patients can find a small gap in their teeth aesthetically pleasing. However, several options are available if you want to improve the appearance of your smile, and your dentist can help determine the ideal treatment to achieve your desired results.
Treatment options for gap teeth include orthodontics, bridges, and veneers.
Orthodontics is a treatment focused on improving a misaligned bite, whether you have an overbite, underbite, or gap teeth. The devices used in orthodontics slowly shift your teeth into place, providing a straighter smile.
- Braces: Braces have been used to treat gap teeth and other misalignments for years. During treatment, your dentist attaches metal wires and brackets to each tooth, which they adjust to shift your teeth into place over time. Braces are typically easy to wear, though you may experience discomfort when they’re first attached and after adjustments.
- Clear aligners: Clear aligners are commonly referred to as Invisalign, a popular brand of these aligners. They work similarly to braces, but many patients choose these aligners because they’re removable and more discreet than traditional braces. The clear aligners gradually shift your teeth, and you replace your aligners as you progress through treatment.
Bridges are a dental treatment that replaces missing teeth with artificial ones held in place between 2 crowns. Creating a bridge helps restore the natural function of your teeth. Your dentist may recommend a bridge if your gap teeth occur due to a missing tooth.
The bridge process requires multiple dental visits and includes:
- Filing down the healthy teeth between the gap in your smile.
- Creating impressions of your teeth to create the permanent bridge and placing a temporary one.
- Attaching the permanent bridge and cementing it into place on the 2 healthy teeth.
Veneers are a way to improve gap teeth without using braces or clear aligners. They are thin shells that attach to the front of your teeth, typically used to address chipped, damaged teeth or other cosmetic concerns. For gap teeth, they can help fill present gaps or fit over your teeth to improve your smile.
Treatment takes multiple appointments, with your dentist making a mould of your teeth. A few weeks later, you’ll return to your dentist so they can place the veneers after determining if they fit correctly. Your dentist roughens the surface of your teeth with a specialized tool before cementing the veneers in place.
Your Dentist Is Here to Help
Addressing gap teeth can help you enjoy a straighter, tighter smile. Your dentist has several ways to help you achieve your desired results, whether through orthodontics, veneers, or bridges. They can recommend a treatment plan for your needs.