Gap teeth may be cute when you are seven, but it can be frustrating when you’re an adult. But the good news is diastema – its scientific term – is primarily cosmetic. Several people, including Elijah Wood, Lily Aldrige, and Eddie Murphy, have it. Madonna has even made it one of her signature features.
Diastema is a dental condition characterised by space between two teeth. It usually occurs in the upper front teeth but may refer to other openings between your pearly whites. So, while supermodel Abbey Lee Kershaw is flaunting her gorgeous gap-toothed looks on magazine covers, you might wonder: is diastema a deformity? When is it okay to embrace it? And when should you get your dental practitioner to set things straight?
Find out when to toe the line between owning your gap teeth and having your dental professional take a gander at it.
What Causes Diastema?
A host of factors may lead to gap teeth – some people are born with diastema, while others develop it over time. Here are a few common causes:
- Your teeth are too small for your jawbone.
- You have tissue overgrowth on the gumline above your upper front teeth, separating them.
- You suffer from gum disease, which can cause the gums to recede and expose the roots of the teeth. When the roots become exposed, the teeth may become loose, leading to gaps between them. Other signs of gum disease include bleeding gums, red and swollen gums, or bone loss.
- You picked up poor oral habits during childhood, such as thumb-sucking, tongue thrusting, or using pacifiers beyond a certain age. These habits can pressure the teeth and jaw, leading to malocclusion and gaps between the teeth.
Is Diastema or Gap Teeth an Aesthetic or Dental Issue?
For the most part, your gap teeth may be a matter of confidence. You might be self-conscious about the space, or you might be able to pull it off.
However, there are cons to diastema. It may cause a lisp or a whistling sound when you talk. When wide enough, it may also affect the functionality of your teeth and jaw. Teeth can shift or become loose over time, leading to bite issues.
How Do You Close Diastema? Treatment Options
Can diastema be fixed? Yes! You and your dentist can choose from several treatment options depending on the severity of your gap.
Option 1: Seek orthodontic treatment.
Whether your diastema affects your speech or confidence, one common way to treat it is through orthodontic treatment. While braces can move the teeth into the correct position, a clear aligner is a viable alternative that won’t intrude into your daily activities.
Ask your dentist about ClearCorrect, a top-of-the-line invisible aligner with a tri-layer ClearQuartz material and a flat trimline. It puts misaligned teeth in place as subtly and effectively as possible, closing the gap in the process. Certified ClearCorrect dental partners also utilise ClearPilot, a treatment “GPS” that lets you view every step and progress in the process.
Depending on the severity of the gap, treatment may take several months to a year or more.
Option 2: Consider simple in-chair procedures.
Procedures, such as dental bonding or veneers, may also be options. Bonding involves applying a tooth-coloured resin to the teeth, which is shaped and polished to fill the gap. Meanwhile, veneers are thin shells placed over the front of the teeth, which can help improve your teeth’s appearance.
Option 3: Undergo dental surgery if needed.
In some cases, surgery may be necessary to correct diastema. Ultimately, it will depend on your dental health professional’s diagnosis. You can work together to figure out the best treatment for you.
While there is nothing wrong with having gap teeth or diastema, depending on the causes, it can cause other underlying dental health issues – so best to be prepared!
Advanced Operative Dentistry. (n.d.). ScienceDirect.
Hasan, H., Azzawi, A. M. A., & Kolemen, A. (2020). Pattern of distribution and etiologies of Midline diastema among Kurdistan-region Population. Journal of Clinical and Experimental Dentistry, e938–e943.