There’s a lot of discussion in orthodontics about crowded teeth which is a common problem amongst orthodontic patients. Tooth crowding is a hereditary condition where patients lose their baby teeth too early or their jaws are too small for their teeth. This condition makes it more difficult for patients to brush and floss their teeth properly and can result in issues such as cavities, tooth decay, and even gum disease. This is why it’s recommended that people with crowded teeth seek orthodontic treatment such as Invisalign or braces.
On the other end of the spectrum, gapped teeth is another common orthodontic condition which also results in similar dental problems. Gaps between teeth (also known as diastema) can happen between any two teeth, however it is most common among the front two teeth. Gapped teeth can appear to be unattractive along with causing oral health issues if left untreated. Today we’re going to discuss gapped teeth in more detail to give you a better understanding of what causes diastema and what options you have for treatment.
Causes of gapped teeth
The most common cause of gapped teeth is a mismatch between the size of the teeth and the size of the jaw bone where the teeth are too small and causes a space to develop between one or more teeth. Of course, there are other reasons for gapped teeth as well. Some teeth may be undersized or missing altogether which also creates a space. Most commonly, individuals who are missing their upper lateral incisors (the teeth next to the two upper front teeth) will develop a space between their two front teeth.
In other cases, an individual may have an oversized labial frenum which is the piece of tissue that typically extends from the inside of the upper lip to the gum just above the two front teeth. When the labial frenum develops too much in the womb, it passes between the two front teeth and hinders the natural closing of the space between these teeth during development. Additionally, habits such as thumb sucking and an incorrect swallowing reflex (when the tongue presses against the front teeth instead of the roof of the mouth) can also create gaps between the two front teeth.
Keep in mind that children almost always have temporary gaps between their teeth after their baby teeth fall out, however they will generally close after the eruption of their canine teeth.
Individuals with diastema may have a series of problems which require orthodontic treatment or it may be the only problem. For those where diastema is the only issue, many people seek orthodontic treatment to enhance their appearance. The most effective way of treating diastema is with a full set of braces on both the upper and lower teeth simply because shifting any teeth influences all teeth in the mouth.
If diastema is the result of small lateral incisors, orthodontists typically encourage widening them using veneers, crowns, or bonding. On the other hand, if missing teeth are causing the problem, you may require extensive dental repair such as a bridge, partial denture, or dental implants.
For individuals that have a large labial frenum, oral surgery can be performed to reduce the frenum by way of a frenectomy. If a frenectomy is performed on a younger child, the space generally closes on its own however it’s performed on an adult or older child, braces may be needed to close the space.
Speak with your orthodontist
If you or your child has gapped teeth, simply consult your orthodontist to identify the reason for the space. Once this has been determined, you’ll be in a better position to determine the best course of action to resolve the problem.
Clear Smiles Orthodontics on the Gold Coast offers all new patients a free initial consultation including X-rays, clinical photos, and digital impressions. If you’re worried about gaps between your teeth, simply phone their friendly staff on 07 5593 3733 to schedule an appointment.