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Gapped Teeth

A friendly, lovely smile is always the dream of all of us. That is why we always take care of our teeth and oral and dental health. We take care of them daily and spend much on toothpaste, dental floss, and everything else that will keep our teeth healthy and strong. We also spend time and money going to the dental office to keep them healthy.

But sometimes, problems occur in our dental health, even if we do utmost care. Either due to things that happened when we are young or to some activities, something happens to our teeth that necessitates more than a casual dentist trip. Sometimes an expert intervention is needed to keep that lovely smile.

One of the things that could happen is to have gapped teeth. Gaps can occur anywhere in our teeth. And it is far more common than we assume. But it is entirely different when you have gapped teeth on the front, either on the upper or lower teeth. It could be a source of embarrassment for many and may result in loss of confidence.

But why do some have gapped teeth? What are the conditions leading to it? Is there something we can do about it?

Diastema: The condition of having gapped teeth

Gaps can occur and can be noticeable or not. Adults and children have it. It is more common for some children to have gaps in their front teeth but close them out once they have their permanent teeth. Others, however, have gapped teeth throughout their lives. Some adults can have none before but develop it as they grow older.

Having gapped teeth is known by the medical term diastema, especially one in the front, upper teeth. Multiple gaps within teeth are known as diastemata. But diastema is usually the one we are most familiar with, the one we commonly see. For children, they could be cute but could be a source of embarrassment as people grow older.

What causes gapped teeth?

The exact cause of diastema is still unknown. Experts point to several contributing factors that may lead to gapped teeth. Among these factors are:

Genetics and physiological conditions

Some people just have it in their bones, literally. If one has small teeth relative to their jaw bone size, it can make teeth spaced too far apart.

Others may develop a gapped teeth condition if they happen to have overgrown tissues along the gumline. The overgrown tissue may come in between the teeth, resulting in gaps.

Diseases and infection

Those that have gum diseases and inflammation of the gums may develop diastema. It is because the supporting tissues in the gums are damaged. Gum diseases can lead to tooth loss. And tooth loss in some parts of the teeth may result in gaps in the teeth.

Bad and unhealthy habits

Some activities, such as thumb sucking, may result in gaps, especially at the front teeth. Some activities put pressure on the teeth, causing them to move. Movement may result in gaps between teeth.

For children, the unhealthy habit of pushing the tongue against the front teeth seems harmless. In the long run, the pressure may result in teeth movement. The movement may eventually result in having gapped teeth.

How to deal with gapped teeth

One can deal with diastema at the onset and does not necessarily require an active intervention from an expert.

Preventing is always better than cure, as they say. Doing away with bad habits may eventually decrease the possibility of having gapped teeth. Preventing thumb sucking among children, pushing the teeth on the front teeth, and having an appropriate swallow reflex may do the trick.

If you have gum disease, you need to treat it before it may damage your teeth severely. Once you address the gum disease, the teeth are firmly in the gums. No tooth loss may occur. The teeth' position will stabilize, and any chance of movement that might result in you having gapped teeth becomes lesser.

For those involving genetics, though, things might be different. If it runs in the family, there is a possibility that one may develop diastema and have gapped teeth, especially in the front.

The need for treating gapped teeth

There are considerable risks involved if you have gapped teeth. The most serious is the possibility of oral infection and further deterioration of oral health. Food and other impurities can get trapped in between spaces. It increases the risk of bacterial infection, especially if you already have preexisting gum disease or condition.

Bacterial infection in the mouth can lead to other health risks, like heart disease or other infections.

Aside from the risk of further infection and disease, having gapped teeth may also deteriorate overall dental health. You can develop problems with chewing and eating. It might lead to other teeth being severely damaged, cracked, or broken.

Health issues aside, having gapped teeth may result in a significant loss of confidence. Others are embarrassed by it. They are reluctant to smile at all. It can cause some issues in interpersonal relationships among other people.

The belief is not universal, though. Some have gapped teeth as a sign of beauty. But the emphasis given on straight, aligned teeth as a sign of health, and leading to a lovely smile, cannot be ignored. With the media and peers putting pressure on us on what is beautiful or not, having a nice set of teeth becomes all the more imperative.

The beauty of modern science and advanced dental technology is that remedies are available to correct gapped teeth. Several options are available for those having gapped teeth. Those with diastema can choose among the several options to treat this condition.


What are the available primary treatment options for gapped teeth?

There are three primary treatment options for those who want straight teeth and treat their gapped teeth. These are bonding, veneers, and braces. Each has its pros and cons, and we will help you decide by discussing what each treatment offers to each patient.

Bonding

Dental bonding is one of the methods dentists use to treat gapped teeth. In dental bonding, the dentist uses composite fillings. The composite fillings fill up the gap or the cavity in between teeth.

We call it dental bonding because dentists use composite fillings to fill the gap using a bonding agent.

This bonding agent makes the fillings attached to the teeth. It allows the composite material to fill in, closing and eliminating the gap between the teeth.

Before the dentist performs dental bonding, you need to do certain things.

The dentist will examine the gap and assess if you will benefit from the procedure. The distance between teeth, the gap, is a significant factor. If the gap is large, the dentist might give you a preview, a kind of before and after look, to see the improvement. You can ask for a preview yourself.

If the gap is not that large or significant, let us say less than a millimeter, a preview may not be necessary. You and the dentist may have an idea of what the final result would be.

You need to whiten your teeth before bonding. The material or composite fillings must be the same color as your teeth. The discrepancy in color might result in an awkward look. You might need to whiten your teeth to ensure that you will have the same color and that the composite filling will be unnoticeable.

You may need to eat a lot before the procedure on the day of the procedure itself. You can eat after, but bonding needs to be appropriately attached before you retake another meal.

The method uses light rays to harden the composite fillings between the teeth.

Pros
  • It costs less than other treatment
  • You need only a few visits to the dental office.
  • Could close the gap between teeth in a short period
  • It does not damage your natural teeth
  • The process could be completely reversible

In performing dental bonding, great skill of the dentist is needed to give you that natural look.

Cons
  • Great skill is required to put the composite fillings in between the teeth.
  • You must be careful with what you eat and your eating habits. The food or your eating habits may damage the composite fillings.
  • They can break.
  • It is not the best option for gapped teeth that are too wide.
  • Need to be replaced every few years.

Taking care of your dental bonding

You can brush your teeth regularly and take care of your teeth the usual way. However, you cannot have AirFlow therapy for your teeth. AirFlow therapy can damage the composite fillings used to close the gapped teeth.

You may need to visit your dentist to check on your dental bonding. They will check on the condition, if it is breaking or not, or if it may need polishing.

Veneers

Veneers are tooth coverings, usually made of porcelain or composite material. Veneers are put on the tooth surface to cover the gap between teeth.

Veneers are custom-made materials suiting your teeth' size, shape, and color. It can give you a more natural look.

They may not be suitable for those with quite a large gap between teeth.

Pros
  • It can give your teeth a more natural look compared to dental bonding.
  • They are permanent and long-lasting
  • Veneers do not stain
  • It requires minimum visits to the dental office.
  • Useful too for fixing a chipped tooth.

Your teeth may become too sensitive due to veneers.

Cons
  • Like dental bonding, you need excellent dental skills to put them, an almost perfect dental procedure.
  • Veneers make your teeth more sensitive to heat and cold.
  • Veneers can still be damaged or broken even though they are long-lasting.

Taking care of your veneers

To make your veneers truly long-lasting, you need to use a soft toothbrush and toothpaste suitable for your teeth and veneers. Toothbrushes with stiff bristles might damage your veneers.

To make them genuinely effective, you must take care of your oral health. You need to practice oral hygiene. You must also prevent gum disease. Inflammation in the gums may impact the veneers, for they may recede due to having weaker tissues.

You need only minimal visits to the dentists. But you need to follow your schedule faithfully and not miss your appointment. If there are problems, you must contact your dentists immediately.

Braces

Braces are among the most common procedure for treating gapped teeth. Using braces involves making dead bones and creating new ones in the jaw to support the teeth, giving you that perfect, natural look.

Braces usually involve attaching metals and wires to your teeth. These metals and wires will move your teeth to a particular position at a specific speed. After a certain period, your teeth would close the gap eventually.

The traditional metal braces are the most common type, but there are also ceramic and lingual braces. Ceramic braces differ from traditional metal braces in terms of material. The brackets attached to the teeth are made of ceramics and could be transparent or colorful.

Lingual braces, on the other hand, are entirely hidden. Orthodontists attach them to the back of your teeth, besides your tongue. Nobody will notice if you are wearing lingual braces.

An altogether different type of braces, invisible aligners, can also be used to treat your gapped teeth. Invisible aligners do not have metal wires or rubber bands. They are plastic trays you put in your mouth. They are also transparent; hence, the term invisible aligners.

Despite being of different materials, invisible aligners involve the same principle as traditional metal braces, ceramic and lingual braces. The differences between these types of braces concern comfort, convenience, aesthetics, and pricing.

Pros
  • It involves a natural method of closing the gap between the teeth.
  • If effective, the effects of treating diastema could be long-lasting and permanent.
  • Since it does not use composite fillings, there is no fear of damage or breaking from the treated gap.
  • The possibility of relapse is slight.
  • It can correct other dental issues even as it treats gapped teeth.
  • It could be genuinely effective even for severe cases of gapped teeth.

Cons
  • Except for invisible aligners, braces need frequent intervention from the dentist.
  • Braces are primarily inconvenient and uncomfortable
  • Depending on the braces, it can be pretty expensive.
  • Treatment can be as short as a few months to as long as two years.
  • Some braces can give you a lisp.
  • You need to be wary of what you eat, for it may stain or damage the braces.

Taking care of your braces

You need to go now and then to the dentist to check on your braces. As for invisible aligners, you need clean your teeth thoroughly to make sure you do not damage your invisible aligners and do not stain them.

It would help if you always were wary of where you put your invisible aligners, for they may easily break or be damaged.

What are the things to consider before availing of treatment for gapped teeth?

Not all gapped teeth are the same; some are wider than others. Also, not everyone has the same dental issues. Some have more dental problems than others. These considerations may affect the treatment option.

Dental issues

If you have gingivitis, inflammation of the gums, or discoloration of teeth, this may affect the treatment option. As mentioned earlier, you might need to whiten your teeth if you want dental bonding. Veneers, on the other hand, can suit well the color of your teeth.

Teeth color will not matter if you have braces. However, everything else depends on if you have gum disease. The gum tissues are weak, and the dentist might choose first to treat your gum disease before embarking on any treatment for your gapped teeth.

The gap genuinely matters.

Depending on the gap, the dentist may recommend a particular treatment option. Dental bonding is not as effective in closing a wide gap. It can make your teeth significantly more prominent than it is, giving you an awkward, unnatural look. But in closing a very minimal gap, they are most suitable.

It is the same thing with invisible aligners. They are most suited to treating gapped teeth conditions considered mild or moderate. An extreme gapped teeth condition might require other types of braces.

Traditional braces effectively close the gap, even among gapped teeth considered extreme or severe. No wonder they are a favorite option. But again, using them depends on other considerations, both for the dentist and the patient, for they could be pretty uncomfortable.

Teeth sensitivity

Veneers can be long-lasting; they can last up to twenty years. But the problem is that they make teeth more sensitive to heat or cold than they should be. It might preclude some patients from having them as an option if they have too sensitive teeth.

Material and composition

Dental bonding is considered the cheapest option because of the material used. Veneers use porcelain, which is durable. A composite veneer material may not be as strong or durable.

Traditional metal braces, by far, have the most durable material, but for an entirely different purpose. They can move teeth, kill bones, and generate new ones. Barring any circumstances, you need not worry about treatment derailment because braces are damaged. It is true even of ceramic braces, which use far lesser durable brackets.

Invisible aligners may be less durable. But they are for mild, moderate gapped teeth conditions. They are only for those who do not have a wide gap, those with minimal ones. The material used to make invisible aligners is just fine for gapped teeth, mild ones, that is.

How much?

Dental bonding is the least expensive of the treatment options, costing below $1,000 per tooth. But the solution is never permanent, and you must follow up now and then to check on them. You need to replace them too every five years or more.

If there are not that many issues, you can avail of cheaper options.
Veneers are more expensive than dental bonding due to their expensive material. They can cost as much as more than $2,000.

But they are more long-lasting. Veneers can hold firmly for more than fifteen years in your teeth.

Braces are more tricky. There are invisible aligners that hover between one grand to $3,000. Traditional metal, ceramic, and lingual braces command far higher prices. It is because of the material as well as the level of skill used in creating and installing them.

Due to the level of skill needed, Lingual braces are the most expensive of the options available, dental bonding and veneers included. But they are indeed unnoticeable, entirely hidden behind the teeth.

On the other hand, providers of invisible aligners accept insurance and provide various payment options to their clients. It can drive the price of the invisible aligners down. Others also have freebies and other services, making this option a bargain.

In Conclusion: What is the best option for you?

The best treatment option for your gapped teeth depends on how effective a treatment is and on what do you want as you undergo treatment.

A severe, extreme gapped teeth condition precludes you from availing of invisible aligners and dental bonding. They are not effective for these cases. You need to have braces, traditional metal, ceramic, or lingual, to treat your gapped teeth.

In the worst-case scenario, you may even need surgery. But these are rare ones. Braces are ideal if you have extreme gapped teeth condition.

But as you go from extreme to mild, you have a more comprehensive range of options. Dental bonding is the most affordable but only fixes the gap, and that's it. You visit your dentist now and then and replace it with new bonding after five to ten years. It is the same thing with veneers, albeit more expensive but also more long-lasting.

Braces and invisible aligners, on the other hand, can make the solution permanent. It can treat the gapped conditions once and for all, never needing to replace anything after treatment.

And they can be fashionable in cases of invisible aligners and some braces, such as ceramic ones. You can go for that natural treatment without people noticing that you are undergoing treatment for your gapped teeth.

The availability and price may matter. No need to spend that much on a very mild or even moderate gapped teeth condition. If comfort and convenience matter to you, having dental bonding or veneers may be more suitable. Braces of all types are more uncomfortable compared to the two.

The whole idea of choosing the best treatment option for your gapped teeth involves balancing the pros and cons. But your dentist's decision would surely factor in, helping you decide on what is the best option. The dentist is still the best person who will know what is best.


References

https://www.putnamorthodontics.com/diastema-gap-between-teeth/
https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/teeth-gapped-teeth
https://www.thurmanortho.com/how-to-close-gap-in-teeth/
https://beaumontfamilydentistry.com/blog/are-you-embarrassed-by-your-gapped-teeth/
https://www.gregrutherforddds.com/what-you-need-to-know-about-gaps-between-teeth
https://www.webmd.com/connect-to-care/teeth-straightening/fun-facts-about-gaps-between-teeth
https://www.healthline.com/health/diastema#treatment
https://ldndental.co.uk/closing-a-diastema-with-teeth-bonding/
https://dentistryateastpiedmont.com/dental-veneers-advantages-disadvantages/
https://kirklandteeth.com/cosmetic-dentistry/take-care-of-dental-veneers/