As a dentist, I often come across patients concerned about gaps in their teeth. Gaps are an interesting phenomenon resulting from a variety of causes – from natural to behavioral.
Children’s teeth develop gaps as they grow because their jaw is getting bigger and their baby teeth remain the same size. Children may have temporary gaps as their baby teeth start to fall out. This is normal and should not cause any alarm.
Gaps in adult teeth are referred to as diastemas. Diastemas appear most often between the two upper front teeth, though they can occur between any two teeth. Diastemas are also normal (take David Letterman, Mike Tyson or even supermodel Lauren Hutton, for example) and like gaps found in children, may result from a mismatch between jaw bone size and teeth size.
If you are concerned about a gap in your teeth or have any questions, the best thing you can do is contact your dentist.
Other than normal sizing issues, there are three other reasons why gaps may form:
- Tumor growths. A gap can be a sign of a serious medical or dental condition. Tumor growths may need to be treated surgically.
- Gum disease.Gum disease, which results in a loss of bone that supports the teeth, may be prevented by regular brushing and flossing. However, if a gap is forming as a result of gum disease, you need to see your dentist as soon as possible.
- Self-inflicted behavior. These gaps occur when people push their tongue against their front teeth when swallowing or as a result of ‘mouth jewelry’. This pushes teeth forward and makes small gaps bigger. Again, if a small gap is getting bigger, have your dentist check it.
Perfect your smile:
- Bonding: If the space between teeth is relatively small, dental bonding can be a solution. In dental bonding, a resin-based substance is applied to the tooth, sculpted and shaped to fill in gaps. This process forms the tooth to the overall look of your mouth. Often, bonding can be completed in one dental visit.
- Veneers: Fixing bigger gaps may require reshaping. With veneers, the tooth is shaved down to provide a surface that can be covered with porcelain, which is then specifically shaped to match surrounding teeth.
- Traditional Braces: Orthodontic braces are the most widely used method to help tighten teeth and eliminate gaps. This process can take several years.
- Invisalign Braces: Invisalign uses a series of clear, plastic retainer-like devices to gradually realign the positioning of teeth. This discrete process can take anywhere from several months to several years and is generally more expensive than traditional braces.
The content of this article is for informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for the advice of your dentist. If you have a question about this article or another medical condition, please consult your dentist or other qualified healthcare professional.