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Gapped Teeth: Are They More Than an Eyesore?

If you have a gap between your teeth, you may feel self-conscious. You may even avoid smiling, especially if the gap is between your front teeth (although it can be anywhere in your mouth.) This means it’s strictly a cosmetic issue, right?

Well, no. It’s actually a medical condition called diastema, which means that you have a gap between your teeth. It can cause several health problems that can become a major concern if untreated. Hannah Baek, DDS from Healthy Smile Dental explains more about what it is and how we can treat it.

What is diastema?

A diastema is a gap between any two of your teeth, but the gap needs to be at least 0.5 millimeters to qualify for the definition of diastema.

Some children may have a diastema, but they will outgrow it over time. Your dentist can monitor whether or not this looks to be the case for your child by the results of X-rays.

Having this gap between your teeth can make it harder to clean your teeth properly, which can result in other problems.

Why to close your gap

Technically, you don’t have to close the gap between your teeth. Even many celebrities–like David Letterman–find a way to make it work for them.

However, it isn’t strictly a cosmetic issue. Sometimes, having a gap between your teeth puts you at higher risk of gum disease (also called periodontal disease.)

Symptoms of gum disease may include the following:

Because gum disease can lead to tooth loss, and having a gap between your teeth can make gum disease more likely, dentists recommend closing the gap for most patients.

How to close the gap

If we’ve determined that you need to close the gap between your teeth, you have several options. 

Braces

Braces are an excellent choice to close the gap between your teeth. However, most people (especially adults) want to avoid traditional metal braces. Fortunately, there’s an alternative: Invisalign®.

Invisalign is a system of clear thermoplastic aligners, custom-made to fit your mouth. You can change them out about every two weeks. However, you do have to wear them for 20-22 hours a day, taking them out only to eat or drink. This is an appealing option for many people.

Veneers or bonding

Many choose dental veneers or bonding to cover up the gap between their teeth. 

If you choose veneers, it can give your smile a major transformation. You can get a true “Hollywood” smile to rival any TV newscaster, or you can go more subtle. Dr. Baek files down your teeth by a tiny amount to make room for the veneers, which are shells of materials that work like natural teeth. 

Because a tiny amount of your tooth enamel is removed, veneers are considered a permanent decision. However, veneers usually last for 7-15 years. 

A more affordable fix is getting dental bonding. This option uses materials such as composite resin to cover spaces in your teeth, as well as fix chips and cracks. It isn’t a permanent option, but with good care, it can last for quite a while.

If you have a gap between your teeth and would like to discuss your options for closing it, Dr. Hannah Baek at Healthy Smile Dental would love to talk to you. Contact her office today, or request an appointment online.

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