A gap between two teeth is formally known as a “diastema.” These gaps tend to appear between the two upper front teeth, but it’s important to remember that gaps can occur between any two teeth.
There are several possible reasons for having gaps in between your teeth. Even if the gap doesn’t bother you from an aesthetic perspective, it’s important to get the diastema checked by a dentist in case it is being caused by something sinister like gum disease. Gaps in your teeth could also mean your bite is not functioning properly, which can lead to the painful experience of chipped or broken teeth.
The most likely reason for the gap is an issue with a bit of muscle tissue between the gums and upper lip known as the frenum, part of the face’s muscular system. The frenum, though, can overdevelop and grow between the two front teeth into the front part of the palate (roof of the mouth). This can keep or push the teeth apart to form a gap.
To correct the issue, it’s first necessary to consult with an orthodontist, a specialist in bites and tooth alignment. It’s possible for there to be other factors contributing to the spacing including tongue thrusting or finger sucking habits, or missing or misaligned teeth. If the examination reveals an overly large frenum, then the treatment usually commences in two stages.
First, we would need to close the gap by moving the teeth toward each other with some form of orthodontic appliances like braces or clear aligners. Once closed, the next stage would be to surgically remove the excess frenum tissue and cosmetically alter the gums if necessary.
A frenectomy, the procedure to remove the excess frenum, is a relatively minor procedure that can be performed by a periodontist (gum specialist), oral surgeon, or a general dentist with surgical training. The area is numbed with a local anesthetic, the tissue dissected with a small scalpel, and the resulting small wound closed with a few stitches (another option is to use a surgical laser to remove the frenum). Healing should be complete in about a week with only minor discomfort.
There are plenty of different causes of diastemas :
– Missing teeth
– Undersized teeth
– Mismatched jaw bone sizes
– Thumb sucking
– Trouble swallowing
– Gum disease
Braces are a common treatment for diastema. If you don’t want braces, ask your dentist for a cosmetic procedure to fill gaps between your teeth. Veneers or bonding is another option, composite bonding might be the best solution. In this procedure, our dentist applies resin to the teeth. After the solution has set, it will look like there was never a gap.
You may also be a candidate for a dental crown or bridge which can replace a missing tooth or correct a gap. If your doctor diagnoses you with gum disease, you must receive treatment to stop the infection before you seek treatment to close a gap. Treatment for gum disease varies but may include scaling and root planning to remove hardened plaque (tartar) from above and below the gums. This eliminates the bacteria causing the disease.
Spacing issues between the anterior (front) teeth are a common cosmetic concern for many patients.
Depending on your individual circumstance, full treatment can take time. If you are interested in improving your appearance contact our practice and book a consultation to discuss the best option for you.