Gapped Teeth: Causes and Treatments
By on November 09, 2015
Gapped teeth, or diastema, refer to a noticeable space between two teeth. Gaps can develop between any of the teeth, and they may affect just two teeth or several teeth. While some people like the appearance and character of their gapped teeth, others feel self conscious about their appearance. At Clarksville Smiles, Dr. Richard C. Ribeiro offers a range of cosmetic dentistry treatments that can improve the overall appearance of the smile by addressing gaps between the teeth. To undergo treatment for gapped teeth, contact our Clarksville, TN practice today.
Why Do Some Patients Have Gapped Teeth?
Patients may have gapped teeth for various reasons, including:
- Misalignment: If the size of the teeth is small in relation to jaw size, the teeth may naturally have spaces between them. This may result in a gap between the two front teeth, or between most of the teeth.
- Oversized labial frenum: The labial frenum is the tissue that attaches the center of the upper lip to the two front teeth. If this fold of tissue is overly large, it can push the two front teeth apart, resulting in a gap.
- Tongue thrust or swallowing reflex: When some people swallow, they thrust their tongue against their upper front teeth instead of the roof of the mouth. This constant pressure can push the teeth out of alignment, sometimes resulting in gaps.
- Sucking the thumb: Sucking the thumb can also push the teeth out of alignment and cause gaps.
- Missing teeth: Large gaps are often the result of missing teeth. A tooth may be lost to tooth decay, gum disease, or injury. In any of these cases, treatment should be performed as soon as possible to prevent the remaining teeth from drifting out of position, resulting in additional gaps between the teeth.
What Are Common Treatments for Gapped Teeth?
The proper treatment for gapped teeth depends on its cause and the cosmetic goals of the patient. In the case of a large labial frenum, a frenectomy must be performed to remove the labial frenum so gaps between the front teeth can be closed. If the patient has gaps as a result of an improper swallowing reflex, he or she should learn and practice proper swallowing techniques. If the patient sucks the thumb, he or she should stop this habit. Once these underlying problems have been addressed, patients can proceed with treatment for gapped teeth.
If misalignment, a large labial frenum, improper swallowing technique, or thumb sucking causes the gapped teeth, patients may be good candidates for the following treatments:
- Dental bonding: Dental bonding is the most conservative and inexpensive option. A tooth-colored composite resin is applied to the teeth to close the gaps.
- Porcelain veneers: Veneers are fabricated to fit over the front of the teeth to fill in gaps between teeth.
- Invisalign®: Invisalign® involves the use of a series of clear aligners that gradually move the teeth into the desired position.
- Traditional orthodontics: Traditional orthodontics, such as braces, can also be used to move your teeth into optimal alignment.
If your gap is caused by a missing tooth, you will require a bridge or dental implant-supported crown to replace the tooth.
To learn more about your treatment options, contact Clarksville Smiles.
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“Dr. Ribeiro has been my dentist for many years, and he has always provided exceptional service. His staff is very professional and courteous. They always go out of their way to ensure I have a pleasant experience.” Tina Reed