A diastema is a name given to the space between two teeth, particularly a gap. It appears most often between the two upper front teeth. However, gaps can occur between any two teeth.
A mismatch between the size of the jaw bones and the size of the teeth can cause either extra space between teeth or crowding of teeth. If the teeth are too small for the jaw bone, spaces between the teeth will occur. If the teeth are too big for the jaw, crowding will appear.
The spacing between teeth can also be the result of habits such as thumb sucking and pressing of the tongue against the front teeth. Periodontal disease can also lead to a loosening of the teeth, which in turn can lead to unwanted gaps appearing.
Bone loss or gum disease can also cause spaces to form between teeth because lower bone levels reduce the foundation of the teeth pushing them out away from the tongue. Bone loss can also form a type of space called a Black Triangle. This space results when gum tissue is lower than the point at which two teeth connect.
A diastema also can be caused by an oversized labial frenum. The labial frenum is the piece of tissue that normally extends from the inside of your upper lip to the gum just above your two upper front teeth. In some situations, the labial frenum continues to grow and passes between the two front teeth. If this happens, it blocks the natural closing of the space between these teeth.
A diastema that occurs because of a mismatch between the teeth and the jaw does not have symptoms. However, spaces caused by a tongue thrust habit or periodontal disease will tend to expand or grow with time. The teeth may become loose, and discomfort or pain may occur, particularly during biting or chewing.
Spaces can develop if your swallowing reflex does not happen properly. When you swallow, your tongue should press against the roof of your mouth, but some people thrust their tongue forward against their front teeth. As you can imagine, over time, this tongue thrust will cause the front teeth to move and a gap to be created.
As you can see, 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 more chronic 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.
If you have a gap in your teeth, then your next step is to schedule an appointment with your dentist. The best dental treatment for gapped teeth is different for each individual and their needs, and can only be determined by a dental professional. Fixing the gap in your teeth will provide you with both aesthetic and health benefits, so it’s important not to delay.
Your orthodontist at Angel Orthodontics can talk with you about your treatment options. She should be able to advise you whether treatment is needed and if so, what is the most appropriate age to start that work.