Gap Teeth - What Causes Gaps Between Front Teeth, How To Fix It, Cost

close up of metal braces treating diastema gap teeth
This article will discuss in more detail gap teeth, how it occurs, what measures should be taken, and if it requires treatment. The condition where there is a gap between the teeth is medically known as a diastema1. More often than not it happens on the upper teeth that are most visible when a person smiles. But in truth it can form anywhere in the mouth.
 
The gaps have impact on children and adults alike and can be either large or small and inconspicuous. In some children, it goes away when permanent teeth break through the gums. For some patients, the problem can present an aesthetic challenge. They may consult a doctor or dentist on reducing the size of the diastema and improving the smile.

What causes a gap between your teeth?

dental diastema gap teeth illustration

There are plenty of things that can inflict diastema. For starters, some bad habits may put unnecessary pressure on the front teeth. For instance, there is something called a tongue thrust which occurs as a result of a swallowing reflex. When swallowing, instead of the tongue touching the palate, it presses against the front teeth. When this happens, the teeth may separate and create gaps.

In some individuals, teeth are too small for the gums and jawbone, and so they grow far apart from each other. The jaw bones and the size of the teeth differ greatly. Sometimes a large muscle frenum leads up to the condition. This is a piece of tissue that connects the lip and the gum. In some people, it can be unusually big extending toward the upper front teeth and causing more spacing between them.

Last but not least, gum disease could be another reason for gap teeth. It’s basically inflammation of the soft tissues in the mouth which causes swelling, bleeding, and bone loss. The more it progresses, the bigger the chance of the teeth shifting apart and even falling off.

When it comes to baby teeth, a gap between the front teeth is not that uncommon. It can happen with frequent thumb sucking or just due to genetics. The good news is that it will vanish when the permanent teeth erupt.

By comparison, a diastema is a normal feature in some animals, mammals especially. It occurs between the molars and incisors but does not present an issue for them.

Is it bad to have a gap in your teeth?

It depends on the size and type of the gap. That space between the teeth might give rise to some complications such as teeth decay. When those areas are difficult to reach with a brush, plaque and tartar can accumulate.

Next, teeth gap may spur misalignment in the entire mouth which could spur problems with speaking, biting, and digestion. Not being able to chew the food well before swallowing can significantly affect the stomach.

Let’s not forget the aesthetic complications for a while. This is something that can mess with your self-confidence.

The good news is that these issues can be solved with orthodontic treatment that’s available in pretty much every dental office. A general dentist or an orthodontist can evaluate your condition and provide adequate health information. They are trained and experienced, so they surely know more than your google search.

The best way to go is to get an exam instead of letting the problem persist. It may not be necessary to get any treatment whatsoever. But it pays to learn your options and risks so you can take better care of your smile.

Now, if the gap teeth condition has been triggered by teeth loss, over time it will cause the neighbouring teeth to shift into the empty space (gaps) that was left by the missing fang.

Unless you fill in that space with an artificial prosthesis, you run the risk of various complications. The problem can leave you with more than just misaligned, unaesthetic teeth. It will affect your bite and soon after that it may cause more tooth loss. In the end, appearance will be the last thing you worry about.

Not to mention, it can also give rise to gum disease because of poor oral hygiene. You know, when teeth are misaligned, it’s difficult to keep them clean. The brush cannot reach to all areas. One thing leads to another and it may result in gum disease.

So, if you know there are gaps between your teeth, whether one that you were born with or one that happened by accident, you should definitely discuss it with your dentist or other doctor. Orthodontists will advise you how to care for it and whether you should undergo any special treatment. If you are not happy with the way it makes your teeth look, especially if it is located on your front teeth, you can ask a doctor or dentist what to do to fix it.

How do I get rid of gap teeth?

close up photo of gap teeth diastema treated with metal braces

It should be noted that gap between teeth may not always need treatment. A dentist can figure this out based on the underlying reasons.

Metal braces – the traditional ways to fix malocclusions

The best treatment for gap teeth is braces, as they can bring the teeth closer and minimise the vacant space2. Traditional appliances are made of metal, which causes great inconvenience for the patients. They are wire-based devices that are attached to the teeth and take months and even years to slowly shift teeth back in their best position. In most cases, people get them in their childhood years.

Metal braces and aligners feel anything but comfortable. Not to mention, it’s difficult to remove food that’s stuck between the wires and this creates an opportunity for bacteria to linger on. The braces treatment in Singapore costs between $3,000 and $5,000.

Invisible aligners - modern dentistry solution

A more modern approach is invisible braces and aligners like Invisalign. They are not only transparent but also removable which renders them a favourite orthodontic treatment to close gaps and straighten out fangs.

There are many companies that manufacture invisible braces, Invisalign being the most popular choice.

Some are more expensive than others. They all require firm dedication, just like regular braces. But because invisible aligners can be taken out at any moment, it may ruin the entire treatment. For them to work, they have to be worn at least 20-21 hours per day.

The treatment falls on the higher end of the price range and can cost $9,000. In the case of Invisalign aligners, costs vary from $3,000 to $7,000 per treatment and the process takes a few months to work. Note that it may not be ideal for every gap between teeth.

Dental implants

Now, if you have lost a tooth, aligners will not help fix the issue. Missing teeth require dental implants to work. An implant is an artificial tooth made of dental materials. One part of it is bonded to the gums and the other is sticking out. On top of it sits a crown that resembles a natural crown. It is firm enough to allow patients to bite into food effortlessly. This is a big-budget service, ranging from $4,000 to $6,000.

Unlike dental implants, a dental crown is like a cap that wraps around an existing structure that has been filed down in advance. It cannot work its magic if there is no tissue to attach to. There is also a bridge that consists of at least two crowns on either side which are attached to the healthy teeth.

Now, gap teeth, or diastema, in a child don’t necessarily have to be addressed to. A dentist has to examine the patient and see if the gaps are so large that they cause issues with digestion and proper dental hygiene. The best solution is to wait and see what happens when the milk teeth fall out. In most cases, this resolves by itself. However, if there are gaps between teeth in one’s teenage years, there may be room for consideration.

Can teeth gaps be closed without braces?

photo of ceramic dental veneers

Yes. If braces and aligners are a big turnoff for you and your lovely smile, you can go to an aesthetic dentist to try a cosmetic procedure that will fill the space using a tooth-coloured substance.

Two options are available: teeth bonding and veneers.

Dental teeth bonding

The purposes of dental bonding are chiefly to fill empty spaces, cracks, and chips in both children and adults, although people of younger age may not need it. It is relatively affordable, as juxtaposed to other orthodontic treatments. (Just so you know, orthodontics is dentistry that covers prevention and detection of malpositioned jaws, as well as other problems with the jawbone.)

The treatment consists of applying composite material over the gaps that matches the colour of the patient’s teeth. First, the surface of the affected area is roughened so that the dental teeth bonding material can stick to it. Then, the composite resin is fixed in place, moulded as necessary, and shaped around the teeth so it looks and feels natural.

The last step incorporates directing ultraviolet light toward the treatment area so that the material can harden. It’s pretty much the same as filling treatment. It is the best and fastest way to let the substance settle in.

The benefits of this approach are quite simple: it’s non-invasive, it lasts long, it looks good, and it produces amazing results. It takes up to 40-60 minutes to have the manipulation executed, and it is dependent on the size of the job and other individual factors.

Still, every patient should keep in mind that the material, although pretty durable, is not as strong as teeth themselves. Over time it may break down or decompose, so the treatment will have to be repeated if you want to keep your smile looking fabulous and your teeth being functional.

Porcelain veneers and composite veneers

These are thin shells that match the colour of your natural teeth. They are attached to the front side of the fang and by covering it completely, they can hide stains, cracks, and other unsightly things. Made of either composite resin or porcelain, veneers can treat discolouration, gaps between your teeth, small chips and cracks, and an unsymmetrical smile.

Before they are glued to the teeth, the treatment surface has to be filed down so it can accommodate the material. Speaking of material, dental veneers, as a rule, are fabricated from porcelain. This means patients have to be careful with solid foods.

Like other dental treatments, this one has different options. Traditional veneers take more time to provide, whereas no-prep veneers (pre-fabricated veneers 3 are already made and ready to be applied, as the name suggests.

The biggest upside of veneers is, they look like natural teeth and can be changed into any colour to match your other pearly whites. They will not stain either.

A disadvantage of traditional veneers is that the tooth has to be grounded down to allow for proper placement. Once this step is implemented, there is no going back. It’s an irreversible process. Your tooth will never grow back, which means you will have to always use veneers.

Another downside of veneers is their price. They run between $300 and $1,000 per tooth according to different factors, such as location and dentist’s fees.

At the end of the day, you should run your decision through a dentist so they can tell you whether you are suitable or not. The best treatment for gaps between teeth varies from one person to the next. It depends on your age, gender, physical condition, existing problems with your fangs and jaw, as well as your personal preferences.

Is it gap tooth or gap teeth?

It’s usually called gap teeth or gap in teeth.

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