If you have wide gaps in between your teeth, you have what’s referred to as diastema. Usually, this type of gap occurs between a person’s two front upper teeth, but it can actually occur anywhere inside the mouth.
There are a few different reasons why these gaps occur:
- The size of your teeth and your jaw bones don’t match, resulting in either overcrowding of the teeth or gaps.
- The soft tissue that connects your upper lip to your gums just above your two upper front teeth (your labial frenum) is oversized. When this tissue grows in between the two front teeth, it causes a gap to form.
- If you have missing teeth or teeth that are undersized (typically the upper lateral incisors), it can cause a gap (usually between the upper central incisors).
- If your tongue presses too much against your front teeth when you swallow (referred to as a tongue thrust reflex), it can push your front teeth forward and cause gaps to form.
- Gum disease can result in bone loss that can make teeth lose, which can also result in gaps forming.
- A child’s thumb sucking can cause gaps to form in between the front teeth.
Your dentist or orthodontist may recommend braces as a means of moving teeth closer together and eliminating the gap between them. If braces are recommended, you’ll usually have to wear a full set on both your upper and lower teeth, even if the gap occurs in only one spot in your mouth. The reason is that moving any teeth in your mouth ultimately affects all your teeth, so if you move only your upper teeth, you’ll end up with a misaligned bite, and that can create a whole new set of problems.
Missing teeth should be replaced, and there are several options for doing that, including implants, a partial denture, or a dental bridge.
If your gap is caused by teeth that are too small, your dentist may recommend widening those teeth with veneers, crowns, or by bonding.
If an oversized labial frenum is a cause for the gap, the soft tissue can be reduced in size through laser surgery, after which your dentist or orthodontist may recommend wearing braces until the gap closes.
Gaps that are caused by gum disease require periodontal treatment options to reverse the gum disease. Once that is addressed, you might still have to wear braces. If you lose teeth as a result of gum disease, your dentist is likely to recommend either implant, a partial, or a dental bridge to replace the teeth and close the gaps.
The good news about diastema is that there are several ways to correct it. If you have gaps between your teeth, talk to your dentist about different treatment options.
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