Understanding the Orthodontic Treatment Options for Diastemas

Posted on 01/23/2016 by Dr. Lovrovich
A dental bridge used to correct a gap between a patients teeth.

Have you ever wished that your teeth were straighter and that you had a smile that you could be proud of? Many people find themselves thinking the exact same thing, especially when they have prominent diastemas between the teeth. Fortunately, there are a variety of great orthodontic treatment options available that can eliminate these gaps while giving you the smile that you’ve always wanted.

What is a Diastema?

The term diastema is not commonly known when it comes to dentistry and orthodontics. Simply put, a diastema is a gap or space between two teeth, and it most commonly appears between the two front teeth on the top jaw, although gaps can occur between any teeth. These spaces can develop for a variety of reasons:

  • Mismatching between the size of the teeth and the size of the jaw bone can result in crowding or extra space between teeth. If the teeth are too small for your jaw bone, it is likely that spaces will result in between the teeth.
  • Undersized or missing teeth, most often occurring with the upper lateral incisors, or the teeth found next to the two front teeth of the top jaw. This can cause a space to develop by the upper central incisors.
  • Gum disease can lead to bone loss, as the teeth can become loose when individuals have suffered significant bone loss. This movement can cause gaps between the front teeth.
  • An improper swallowing reflex can cause spaces to develop, specifically when they press their tongue up against the palate while swallowing.
  • Bad habits involving the teeth, including thumb sucking, as it can pull the front teeth to the front in order to create gaps.
  • An oversized labial frenum, as when the labial frenum continues to grow and pass the two front teeth it can block the natural closing of the space found between the teeth.

Is There Any Way to Prevent a Diastema?

In many cases, preventing a gap in the teeth isn’t avoidable, such as when there is a mismatch in the jaw and tooth size. However, there are certain situations in which steps can be taken to prevent gaps. Since we now know that gaps can be caused by poor swallowing habits, tongue thrusters should learn better swallowing techniques to prevent causing a space to widen. Proper oral hygiene is also a necessity in preventing gum disease, which could ultimately result in diastemas if it is allowed to worsen.

How Can a Diastema Be Treated?

The first thing you need to consider when thinking about diastema treatment options is whether or not you want the problem corrected. Many people don’t feel that treatment is necessary and are perfectly content with their smile even with a gap present. However, if problems result or if you are unhappy with your smile, there are several treatment options that can be used to close the space:

  • Braces and other orthodontic treatment options can move the teeth closer together in order to close in the gap. However, you’ll need to have a full set of braces regardless of where in your mouth the diastema is located.
  • If missing teeth are the reason for your diastema, you might need dental implants, a partial denture, or a bridge in order to prevent the remaining teeth from moving into a gap.
  • A frenectomy may be needed in order to reduce a large labial frenum, and when completed on younger children, the gap in the front teeth can close on its own.

If you are unhappy with a gap between your teeth, please contact us today for a consultation to determine what treatment options might be available.

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Seattle WA 98105-3941

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