How to close gaps in teeth safely and effectively
Are you conscious of gaps between your teeth, or worried that your child’s teeth are developing this way? Here you can learn what causes gaps in teeth and what you can do about them.
What is a diastema?
A diastema is the medical term for a gap between two teeth. The most common type of diastema is a gap between the two upper front teeth, known as a ‘midline diastema’, but they can occur anywhere in the mouth. Some people have just one noticeable gap, while other people have multiple teeth which look gappy and spaced out.
Gaps in teeth are generally not a medical concern, although they may leave the teeth slightly more susceptible to chipping without protection from the adjacent tooth. Gapped teeth can also be difficult to clean, and large gaps between the back teeth may interfere with eating.
That said, most people who undergo diastema closure do so for cosmetic reasons. Gaps between teeth can be unsightly and make the smile look uneven, and many patients feel more confident after fixing their diastema.
There are a number of ways to get rid of gaps in teeth, with and without braces, which you can read about below.
What causes gaps in teeth?
A diastema can be the result of genetics, as well as various external factors. Here are some of the most common reasons for gaps in teeth:
Mismatched teeth and jaw size
A mismatch in teeth and jaw size can leave extra space in the mouth, resulting in a diastema. When the opposite is true, overcrowding occurs.
Some people just have smaller than normal teeth. This is especially common with the lateral incisors (second teeth from the front) which can be thin and pointy, creating gaps with the neighbouring teeth.
Thumb sucking and tongue thrusting can push the front teeth further out, creating an overbite and more space for gaps.
If the bit of skin between your upper front teeth grows too large, it can force a gap in the teeth.
Poor oral hygiene
If you don’t take good care of your oral hygiene you may develop gum disease, which can lead to gum recession and tooth movement.
The gap from having a tooth extracted isn’t technically a diastema, but some people are missing teeth from birth. This condition is called hypodontia. In this case, the remaining teeth can move to fill the space, creating multiple gaps between teeth.
How to prevent gaps in teeth
For some patients, gaps in teeth are purely genetic, resulting from naturally misshapen teeth or a combination of a large jaw and small teeth.
However, other patients end up with gaps in their teeth because of childhood habits or gum disease.
Here are some ways you can help prevent a diastema from developing:
- Discourage thumb sucking and pacifier use in children, especially past the age of 1.
- Be aware of the signs of tongue thrusting and visit a dentist or doctor if you’re concerned.
- Encourage good oral health from childhood, brushing for two minutes, twice a day. Add daily flossing by adolescence, and continue these habits into adulthood to reduce the risk of gum disease.
Even if you do develop a diastema from natural causes, you should maintain good oral hygiene to avoid other problems like dental caries and bad breath.
Diastema treatment in Singapore
So, if you have a diastema and want to close it, what are your treatment options? Our Singapore dentists offer several treatment options, each with its own pros and cons to consider.
The quickest and cheapest way to close a diastema is with composite bonding. This involves applying a soft composite material to the existing teeth. Once the desired appearance is achieved, the material is hardened and polished. With a good colour match, the result should look completely natural. However, composite material will start to degrade after around 5 years and the teeth will need to be re-treated.
Veneers and crowns
Veneers are a more permanent way to improve the aesthetics of teeth, lasting 10+ years with proper care. These thin porcelain covers are placed over the existing tooth, and can transform both the shape and the colour. They may be used for a single tooth, or for a full row of 8-10 teeth as part of a smile makeover.
One downside of veneers is that usually a small amount of enamel has to be removed in order to place them. This means the procedure is non-reversible. You can expect to pay $250-$1,000 per tooth, depending on the materials used and the number of veneers placed.
If the tooth in question is particularly small, or has already been damaged from decay, then a dental crown may be more appropriate.
Braces and Invisalign
In more severe cases, it may be preferable to carry out orthodontic treatment to physically move the teeth into better alignment. Traditional fixed braces and clear aligners like Invisalign are effective diastema closure treatments.
This isn’t a quick fix like bonding or veneers, but the benefit is that you aren’t interfering with the natural tooth structure at all.
Sometimes, a combination of orthodontic work and bonding or veneers may achieve the best results.
A large gap between teeth, occurring because of tooth loss or hypodontia, can be treated by implanting a fake tooth. This is a natural-looking and long-lasting treatment option, but implants cost $2,500 – $6,000 per tooth.
If a diastema has occurred because of an enlarged frenulum, this tissue will need to be removed before the gap can be closed.
Here’s a quick recap of these diastema treatment options:
|Composite bonding||Closing small gaps between teeth||Quick and affordable||Only lasts around 5 years|
|Porcelain veneers||Reshaping teeth and closing small gaps||Quick and natural, can change tooth colour too||Higher cost, involves enamel removal|
|Braces or Invisalign||Moving teeth into better alignment||Permanent solution, enamel remains intact||Longer treatment time|
|Dental implants||Replacing a missing tooth||Permanent and natural solution||Costly procedure, involves surgery|
Not everybody is a suitable candidate for all of these treatments. The best way to understand your options is to book an appointment with one of our experienced dentists. They will take into consideration your budget and the results you want to achieve, and then provide a personalised treatment plan which may incorporate one or more of these treatments.
Is it necessary to close gaps in teeth?
Usually, a diastema is a cosmetic concern rather than a medical one. In this case, it is up to the patient to decide whether they are happy to live with the gap in their teeth, or whether they would prefer to close it.
A simple dental assessment will let you know whether there would be any medical benefit to diastema closure in your case.
However, if you decide not to undergo treatment, you’ll need to take special care to clean your gapped teeth – especially as food may become trapped there more easily and a regular toothbrush may not reach all the surfaces of each tooth.
So, What’s Next?
If you’ve got more questions about getting treatment for diastema. You could contact us directly to speak to one of our dentists.
We would suggest for you to speak to one of our dentists. Our dental professionals providers are experienced, ready to answer all your queries, and will discuss all the possible treatment options available for you.
At the end of the day, we believe that the right dentist for you is the one who will lay out all your treatment options on the table, allowing you to make informed decisions, while ensuring that your entire treatment process is as enjoyable, comfortable and hassle-free as possible. Good communication between you and your dentist is the best way to ensure a smooth and successful treatment.
In addition, please only proceed with the treatment if you are fully comfortable with the treatment plan proposed by your provider.
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