Should I worry about my diastema?March 10, 2020 5:55 am
A diastema is, very simply, a gap between two teeth. It can occur between any pair of teeth, and for many animals in the wild it’s completely normal. However, for humans it can be most noticeable – and most annoying – between the upper front pair. The size of the gap can vary hugely, being hardly visible in some people and immediately obvious in others. If you have a gap that bothers you, the good news is that there’s plenty of options to fix it.
- What causes a diastema?
There are a few different causes for the gap. Sometimes there is a discrepancy between the size of the teeth and the jaw – the teeth are too small for the space. This is often hereditary. Another factor is the tissue, called labial frenum, which sits between gum and teeth. This can grow too much, creating a gap. Or, some people change the position of their teeth without realising it – tongue thrusting can push the teeth forward and out. Sometimes children may have a gap in their baby teeth, but it disappears when they get older or when adult teeth come in. In rare instances, gum disease might create a new gap. This is because gum disease over time causes teeth to become loose, move apart, and a gap appears. In any case, it’s best to see a dentist to get a professional opinion on why your gap exists and what the best treatment is going to be.
Depending on the cause of your gap, there are various solutions. One of the most common is orthodontic work – meaning, a brace. There are many different brace options nowadays and Invisalign is a popular, convenient and near-invisible option. This will move your teeth together and close the gap over time. For this reason, braces can also help correct other problems like crooked teeth. Bonding, where a tooth-coloured composite fills the gap, can also be a quick and effective solution that closes the gap in one dental appointment. If your gap is very large, the dentist might recommend a veneer, crown or even a bridge or tooth implant to cover over the space. If overgrown gum tissue is responsible for your gap, then corrective surgery might be the best course of action. If you have gum disease, then that must be treated before any other work is done. Of course, if there’s no underlying issue causing your gap and it’s just cosmetic, you could choose to do nothing at all!
- For children
While gaps between teeth can be hereditary, there are a few lifestyle factors that can affect it too. It’s a good idea to make sure children don’t pick up any habits that could cause problems later. Thumbsucking and pacifiers for example, can encourage the teeth to push out if used too much. The official advice is to wean children off the habit around two to four years of age at the latest. If you spot a gap, it may fix itself of its own accord – children only have 20 baby teeth in a set, whereas there are 32 adult teeth. As your child loses their baby teeth and gains adult ones, noticeable gaps are often lost naturally as teeth move into the right positions. Having said this, it’s a good idea to make dental check-up appointments every six months, so your pediatric dentist can keep an eye on dental development and nip any potential problems in the bud.
- For adults
Grown-ups need to be careful of their teeth also! Make sure you brush and floss regularly, and see the dentist every six months. This will reduce the chances of any conditions developing that might harm your smile. If you have always had a gap and want to fix it, make an appointment with your dentist. There’s lots of ways to fix it and make you happy to smile again!
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