April 29, 2021
Do you have a gap between your front teeth that is wider than 0.5 millimeters? This is what dentists call a “diastema.” The good news is that you don’t need to worry. Most of the time, this isn’t harmful and doesn’t require any treatment. It can happen to both children and adults. However, many people don’t like the appearance of a gap between the front teeth. Continue reading to learn why they occur and what you can do about them.
What Causes a Diastema?
There are several reasons why a diastema can occur. Here are a few of the most common ones:
- Small teeth: In some families, having smaller teeth in relation to the jawbone is genetic. In this situation, gaps can develop between the teeth.
- Gum disease: If you have gum disease at a more advanced stage, your teeth can migrate, and gaps can open between them. Without treatment, your teeth could eventually fall out.
- Missing teeth: When a tooth is missing, your other teeth will move around, and you could develop gaps. This happens more often when the teeth on either side of the front teeth are missing.
- Oversized labial frenum: The labial frenum is the tissue that extends from the inside of your upper lip to the gum that is above your upper front teeth. If this is larger than average, a gap can form.
- Bad habits: If you suck your thumb, lip, or thrust your tongue, you can develop a diastema as a result.
What Can You Do About a Diastema?
Fortunately, if you aren’t happy with the appearance of your smile, you don’t need to settle for it. Here are some possible treatments that may be able to give you that aesthetically beautiful smile that you’re looking for:
- Invisalign: Invisalign clear aligners can shift your teeth and close the gap.
- Porcelain veneers: If undersized teeth are the reason why you have a diastema, veneers can correct this. These are wafer-thin shells of porcelain that are placed over the surface of your teeth to cover up imperfections, such as diastemas.
- Direct bonding: Your dentist uses a composite resin on the surface of the teeth to fill in the gap. This is then hardened with the use of a special light.
- Periodontal therapy: If you have gum disease that is the cause of your diastema, having periodontal therapy is necessary in order to stop the infection and prevent further issues. After this, you and your dentist can work on closing the gap with another treatment.
- Surgery: If you have a diastema as a result of an oversized labial frenum, surgery might be recommended to fix it.
Diastemas aren’t usually harmful, but not everyone is a fan of their appearance. By discussing your options with your dentist, you’ll have the smile of your dreams in no time!
About the Author
Dr. James T. Sierra is an experienced dentist who has been working in the field for well over a decade. He earned his dental doctorate from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and has completed over 1,200 hours of continuing education. He is a Fellow of the Academy of General Dentistry and the International Congress of Oral Implantologists. Currently, he is also a proud member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. For more information on diastemas or to schedule an appointment at his office in Friendswood, visit his website or call (281) 482-2631.
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