Some people develop tooth gaps in childhood, while others get them when they’re older. How do they happen? Well, diastema, the clinical term for the gap between two teeth, can be genetic. Check your family pictures; your parents and relatives likely had it, too.
For some, the gap – usually between two upper central incisors – closes naturally as adult teeth come in. But sometimes, you‘ll need to seek professional treatment. If you didn‘t back then, you’ll likely maintain and aggravate the space through certain habits or conditions.
Why Are You Getting Gaps in Your Teeth?
A few causes of gaps between teeth in later life include:
- Missing teeth
- An oversized labial frenum (the fleshy, protruding tissue above your front teeth)
- Abnormal swallowing reflexes
- Periodontitis (gum disease)
In these cases, it’s best to check in with a specialist orthodontist to investigate the underlying cause.
Are You Thinking of Closing Your Tooth Gap?
No matter how the gaps between your teeth came to be, you can always close them if they make life more difficult for you. That’s right! Despite what many might believe, there’s no age limit for braces or clear aligners – two of the most common fixes for gapped teeth. You can wear them whether you’re 15 or 50!
While childhood is the ideal time to wear them, it’s not your only window of opportunity. Most dental professionals recommend them for children and teens because their mouths are still developing. As a result, their teeth and bones are more pliable, so results happen quicker.
That’s one of the few downsides of getting treated when you’re older: the process can take a little longer. But if you’re eager to have a straight, gapless smile, the wait is worth it.
The Benefits of Closing Tooth Gaps
Most experts agree that gapped teeth alone aren’t a cause for immediate medical concern. They’re what’s called a “benign condition.” So, if you’re worried that your diastema is negatively impacting your oral health, you can rest easy. However, there are still a few benefits to closing the gap.
1. It can give you a confidence boost.
Models like Lily Aldridge and Georgia May Jagger have made gapped teeth a status symbol in the high-fashion world. But not everyone can flash them with the same level of confidence. In fact, most people who treat their diastema do so for aesthetic and self-esteem reasons, which is perfectly valid!
2. It can help protect your gums.
Having teeth gaps leaves your gums more vulnerable to daily wear and tear. Have you ever bitten into a crunchy apple and felt a twinge of pain erupt between your teeth? You may have scraped your exposed gums by accident. Ouch!
3. It can lower your risk for oral health issues.
Food debris is also more likely to get stuck in smaller gaps. If you’re not diligent about flossing, these particles can increase the growth of bacteria in your mouth. The more bacteria there are, the higher your chances of developing problems like sensitive teeth, gum disease, and cavities.
How to Fix Gap in Front Teeth (Discreetly)
For wide gaps, fixed or removable orthodontic devices are your best bet. However, there’s still a certain stigma attached to wearing them when you’re older. Traditional metal-wired braces, in particular, stick out like a sore thumb. Most people aren’t used to seeing them on adult teeth, so it’s normal to feel self-conscious about them.
Thankfully, you have more discreet options. ClearCorrect aligners appear nearly invisible with their stain-resistant tri-layer ClearQuartz plastic material. They also feature a high and flat trimline, allowing them to sit comfortably over your teeth. They apply sustained, gentle force to treat misalignment, closing gaps in the process. What’s more: you can easily take them off when you’re eating, drinking, or brushing, so they won’t disrupt your daily life. Curious to try? See if you might be a candidate here.
Other possible solutions for gapped teeth include dental bonding and veneers. If you’re unsure what route to take, schedule an appointment with your orthodontist. Work with them to determine the best treatment plans for you.
The good news is it’s never too late to close a tooth gap. If it impacts your quality of life, consider addressing the issue. Another great thing about seeking orthodontic treatment as an adult? You have total control and easier access. You can do whatever makes you happy!
Department of Health & Human Services. (n.d.-d). Teeth – gapped teeth. Better Health Channel.
Professional, C. C. M. (n.d.-b). Diastema. Cleveland Clinic.