Why do I have gaps between my teeth?

Gaps between teeth, sometimes cause people to become shy or uncomfortable when smiling or even talking. If it occurs between the front teeth they are known as a diastema, They are also very common. In recent times, they are becoming more accepted even fashionable. A number of famous people have this characteristic trait like Seal and Madonna and models such those for Sea Folly have been widely exposed adding to its charm in modern culture. There are several reasons for having gaps between your teeth, some are:

  • Jaw bones are either too big or too small for the size of the teeth
  • Teeth crowding
  • Small teeth
  • Malformed teeth- peg shaped laterals
  • Extended thumb sucking in children
  • Incorrect tongue reflex when swallowing
  • Shifting or moving of teeth
  • Grinding
  • Gum disease
  • An overgrown labial frenum- the muscle connecting your lip to gums may be very think and prominent and not allow the teeth to come together.
  • Habitually pushing your tongue against your teeth over extended periods of time (“tongue thrust”)

It is normal for children to have gaps between their baby teeth. Teeth gaps in children happen as they grow because their jaw gets bigger but their baby teeth remains the same size. This usually gets corrected as their permanent teeth start to grow. However, it is also important that you have your child’s teeth development checked as early as seven years old to make sure that there will be no problems with the adult teeth that are coming through.

What treatments are available to fix the gaps between my teeth?

Assuming food isn’t getting stuck then gaps are purely a cosmetic problem. Leaving gaps between the teeth untreated isn’t going to cause you any damage unless it is associated with other problems such as an incorrect bite or “sticky out” teeth. Depending on what caused the gaps between your teeth, your Maroubra dentist may recommend orthodontic, cosmetic treatment or a combination of both if it is something you would like to change. Common treatments include:

  • Invisalign
  • Braces
  • Porcelain veneers
  • Composite veneers
  • Crowns
  • Bondings
  • Fillings

If the gaps are caused by missing teeth this is quite different and should be corrected because more negative consequences can occur if left for extended periods. In such cases, the following options exist to replace your missing tooth:

  • Dental implants
  • Bridge
  • Dentures
    • Acrylic
    • Flexi
    • Cobalt chrome

If the gaps have been caused by an overgrown labial frenum, a surgery called frenectomy may be needed to change the position of your frenum to allow the space to close. Sometimes this can be done during a growing phase and teeth can be allowed to come together, sometimes orthodontic encouragement will be required- it just depends. Sometimes a prominent frenum will not actually result in a diastomer.  If the cause is gum disease, you will have difficulty moving it back and, because of the level of attachment lost, things may drift again. This will require gum treatment by us and occasionally referral to a periodontist.

How can I prevent having gaps between my teeth?

Unfortunately, not all teeth gaps can be prevented. If the cause of the gaps is small teeth, big jaw bone, or overgrown labial frenum, there really is nothing we can do to prevent it. However, if the cause is due to habitual practices such as thumb sucking or pushing your tongue against your teeth constantly, these are totally preventable but are going to require a change in habit which is easier said than done, especially with a tongue thrust. Another preventative measure is to practice good oral hygiene by carefully flossing and brushing your teeth twice a day and regularly visiting your dentist in Maroubra to avoid gum disease.