‘Diastema’ is the medical terminology for gaps in between two teeth.
Children commonly have such gaps between the teeth when transitioning from milk teeth to adult teeth, and they usually resolve once all the permanent teeth are in place. However, in some individuals, these gaps fail to close properly although the teeth appear healthy. Spacing in between the teeth can also occur in adults due to dental trauma, gum disease or other factors.
There are many individuals who seek dental consultation to correct gaps in teeth either due to cosmetic reasons or to relieve physical discomfort. Either way, diastema correction rarely requires medical intervention, and most cases are resolved using orthodontic appliances such as braces, aligners or by the use of composite or ceramic veneers.
Causes of gaps between the teeth
There can be various reasons for gaps formation in between the teeth. Some other reasons for diastema are
- An oversized labial frenum (the strip of tissue connecting the underside of the upper lip to the gum)
- Persistant undesirable habits like thumb /lip sucking, tongue thrusting etc beyond a certain age
- Incorrect swallowing reflexes
- Mismatched size of the teeth and the jaw bones
- Missing or undersized teeth
- Gum disease
Why correcting gaps in teeth is important?
Having gaps in between your teeth can make you feel demoralized or low in confidence at work or in other social settings. If you are finding it difficult to smile openly or speak confidently in front of others, then this can gradually affect the way you interact with others. Also, food particles can get stuck in between the teeth resulting in discomfort and poor oral hygiene.
However, with the application of the correct dental treatment, it is certainly possible for you to regain a happy smile as well as your self-esteem. It can also help restore a pleasing appearance of your face and correct any speech impediments in case you have severe diastema.
For all these reasons, it is best that you approach a seasoned orthodontist or cosmetic dentist who will rectify your tooth gap problems using the best possible treatment.
The best dental treatments to fix gaps between the teeth
Your dentist will plan your teeth gap correction based on the cause of your diastema. Let us look at some of the popular techniques used by dentists to correct diastemas.
Depending on your dental condition, your orthodontist may recommend dental braces to correct the gaps in between your teeth. Braces work by applying constant pressure on the teeth to guide them into proper alignment and reshaping the jawbone. With time, the gaps become smaller and ultimately disappear.
You can be confident that braces can correct your diastema irrespective of what type it is. Only the treatment duration and cost may differ based on the complexity of your problem. For example, a gap correction of the two front teeth may take just take a couple of months. However, correction of severe diastema caused by missing, protruding or irregularly shaped teeth may take longer.
If you don’t fancy wearing braces, you can opt for clear aligners which are preferred due to their aesthetic and less invasive nature. These are transparent trays made of thermoplastic material which when worn on the teeth appear nearly invisible. Like braces, clear aligners work by gradually bringing your teeth back in position, thereby eliminating any gaps between them.
If you have only a small gap between your front teeth or one that is caused due to a chipped, cracked or decayed tooth, your dentist may suggest a cosmetic procedure known as direct bonding. It is done using a tooth-coloured composite resin material to camouflage the gap. The composite resin has a putty-like texture which can be moulded and shaped by your dentist to give the tooth its original shape. The bonding is hardened using an adequate intensity of visible blue light or lasers and then polished to give it a smooth finish.
In some cases, slightly larger gaps are formed due to some teeth being smaller in size than usual. This can be corrected by bonding ceramic veneers to the smaller teeth to make them appear proportionate to the others and thus effectively covering the gaps. Ceramic veneers are preferred over composite fillings when most of the tooth surface needs to be worked upon.
Partial veneers/ chip ceramics
A partial veneer or chip ceramic is recommended in cases where the tooth defect is minimal. The defect is eliminated by simple glueing the ceramic chip onto the gap. In the case of a partial veneer, the dentist carefully sticks it to the outer surface of the defective tooth using a bonding agent.
Crowns / bridges
Your dentist will recommend placing a ceramic crown or bridge for large gaps caused by one or more missing teeth. A dental bridge is a false tooth or teeth held in place by the adjacent teeth on either side of the gap (traditional bridge) or cemented to just one adjacent tooth (cantilever type). Again, the duration and cost of this treatment will differ based on the number of missing teeth, the type of bridge selected, the material used and the difficulty of the placement
Importance of maintenance
Whichever method your dentist chooses to correct the gaps between your teeth, its success will depend on how you maintain your dental fittings and take care of your oral hygiene.
Therefore, brushing your teeth twice daily with non-abrasive fluoride toothpaste, visiting your dentist every six months for a checkup and avoiding foods and drinks that cause staining is recommended to extend the life of your veneers.
If you are still in doubt about which treatment method is the most suitable for you, it is best to schedule an appointment with your dentist at the earliest. Getting your teeth corrected will help you regain your beautiful smile and confidence and help you lead a healthy lifestyle.
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