Diastema: What Causes It & How to Fix Gaps in Teeth
A diastema refers to a gap or space between two adjacent teeth, most commonly observed in the front teeth. While some individuals embrace the unique charm of a natural gap, others may seek ways to address or eliminate diastema for cosmetic or functional reasons.
Gaps in the teeth are commonly cited as a reason for choosing treatments like veneers or orthodontics. While some people might like the unique appearance of a small gap, it can also damage confidence.
In this article, we will explore the causes of diastema and discuss various options for fixing gaps in teeth.
What causes diastema?
There are many reasons a person might have a small gap in their teeth. Gaps can appear between any teeth, but the front teeth are usually the area where individuals are most likely to seek cosmetic treatment. Gaps in the back teeth are potentially more problematic as they can provide space for food debris and bacteria to build up.
Here are the five most common causes of gaps in the teeth:
Genetic factors can play a significant role in the development of diastema. Some people may inherit a tendency for gaps between their teeth from their parents.
2. Tooth size discrepancy
Discrepancies in the size of teeth can contribute to gaps. If there is a significant difference in the size of the teeth and the jaw is too large for the teeth, spaces may occur. This is the opposite of overcrowding, which can cause teeth to rotate and emerge incorrectly. With spacing, the teeth may become loose as they don’t have the support of adjacent teeth.
3. Missing teeth
Gaps can also result from missing teeth, as the surrounding teeth may shift or move to fill the space over time. Teeth lost at a young age may shift to close gaps, but this is unlikely to completely close the gap. Intervention may be required to close the gap entirely.
4. Gum tissue size
The size and shape of gum tissues can influence the appearance of gaps between teeth. Excessive gum tissue or a high gum line can contribute to the perception of diastema. Receding gums caused by gum disease can also increase the appearance of diastema.
Certain habits, such as thumb-sucking or using a pacifier for an extended period, can impact the alignment of teeth and contribute to gaps. This is one reason that regular dental checkups as a child are so important for dental development.
What are the risks of diastema?
Most people with a gap in their smile never face any problems, but there are some problems that can arise from diastema or spacing.
The most common issue with gaps in your smile comes from poor oral hygiene. Gaps can make the teeth more difficult to clean and may lead to pockets in the gum where food and bacteria can develop. If you have gaps in your smile, it is vital to take steps to make sure you can brush your teeth properly. This could mean using interdental brushes or water flossing.
Gaps in the teeth can also lead to rotations and further alignment issues. This is simply because the teeth aren’t supported on each side. It can also make it more difficult to chew foods, as it can be uncomfortable to bite down if food gets stuck in the gap.
If the gap in your smile is small enough and you are aware of how to brush your teeth properly, there may not be any wider risk to your oral health.
How to fix gaps in the teeth
If you have a gap in your teeth and you are concerned about the way it looks or you’re worried about your oral health, there are options available to address the excess spacing.
1. Orthodontic treatment
Orthodontic options, such as braces or clear aligners, are effective in closing gaps between teeth. These treatments work by applying consistent pressure to gradually move teeth into their desired positions.
2. Composite bonding
Composite bonding involves applying a tooth-coloured resin to the surfaces of the teeth to close gaps. This is a minimally invasive and cost-effective cosmetic solution. Composite resin will typically last for around 5 years and then it will gradually wear down.
Porcelain veneers are custom-made shells that cover the front surface of teeth. They can be used to close gaps and improve the overall appearance of the smile. This solution is ideal for smaller gaps that may be accompanied by other imperfections such as rotations or discoloration.
4. Dental crowns
For cases where the gap is due to a missing tooth, a dental crown can be used to restore the tooth and fill the space. This is often part of a dental bridge or implant-supported restoration. If the gap is caused by a smaller tooth, then topping this with a larger crown can help to restore symmetry to the smile.
5. Gum contouring
In some instances, adjusting the size and shape of the gum tissues through gingival contouring can reduce the appearance of gaps between teeth. Gum treatments are commonly recommended in cases where gum disease has caused the gums to recede.
Diastema is a common dental concern with various potential causes. The best method for fixing gaps in teeth depends on the specific circumstances and the individual's preferences.
Consulting with a dentist or orthodontist is crucial to determine the underlying cause of diastema and to explore the most suitable treatment options. Whether it's through orthodontic interventions, cosmetic procedures, or restorative dentistry, addressing diastema can lead to a more confident and aesthetically pleasing smile.
Remember, each person's dental situation is unique, and personalised guidance from a dental professional is key to achieving the best results.
At the end of the day, while gaps in the smile might be seen as imperfections, they can also make your smile unique. As long as you are able to clean your teeth correctly, there is no reason you have to fix a gap in your smile.
That said, if you are self-conscious about your smile or worried about your oral health, there is a wide range of options available for all budgets.