Want to know how to fix gaps between teeth? Find out why they appeared and what you can do to fix them.
Once you know the many causes of teeth gaps you can start implementing treatment and stop the bad habits that may have created the problem.
Gaps in the teeth are commonly called diastema in technical jargon. The most common and noticeable gap appears in the upper two front teeth.
Diastema is not a threat or a serious issue to your teeth or gums. Those who give attention to it and decide to cover the gap do it mostly for cosmetic reasons.
Gapped teeth have several natural causes.
- An oversized labial frenum (a piece of gum flesh between the 2 front teeth)
- Missing teeth
- Undersized teeth
- Gum disease
Several methods have been adopted to address this issue and close up these gaps.
These methods include:
- dental implants
- porcelain veneers
After having one of the above methods applied, one needs to practice certain habits. Letting go of bad habits will avoid the reappearance of these gaps.
For example, avoid habits like thumb sucking and tongue thrusting.
Firstly, these are unhygienic practices. They can also create an infection that damages gums and weaken bones that hold down teeth.
They can also cause the teeth to move.
What Are Some Causes Of Gaps Between The Teeth Or Diastema
How do you get a gap between your teeth?
Some people are naturally pre-disposed to having a front tooth gap. Meaning that due to inherited genes, their teeth are naturally like that.
However some bad habits specifically contribute to creating a gap in the front teeth.
So lets go through what causes gap teeth:
Sucking Thumbs And Lips
These practices often lead to teeth moving forward, and in the process, a gap between teeth may be created.
Thumb sucking for children leaves jaws fragile. The jaw bone contains a large blood supply.
When one continuously sucks the thumb, they deform the bones around the teeth. These malformed bones may fail to hold down teeth in the mouth.
In this regard, teeth start moving, shaking, or become loose. These movements will lead to gaps between the front teeth.
Hence one needs to stop this habit as soon as possible.
Secondly, missing teeth or having differing-sized teeth results in gaps being created between teeth.
Thirdly, damage to the gums may lead to diastema. This is because problems with gums result in problems with the bones that support the teeth.
When the bones that support the teeth are disturbed, they are most likely to cause the teeth to break, shake, or even move.
Gums that are infected make them weak, resulting in failure to support teeth. Infections are caused by poor hygiene, like not brushing teeth for example.
Incorrect Swallowing Technique
Swallowing incorrectly may cause diastema.
When one eats and prepares to swallow, the tongue puts pressure on the upper part of the mouth, known as the roof.
If one fails to pressure the roof, then pressure when swallowing would come from pressing the tongue against the front teeth.
One would eventually develop a gap between teeth if continuously doing this. Pressure from the tongue is severe as the tongue contains very powerful muscles.
This pressure would easily shift teeth.
Furthermore, 2 out of 3 children develop what is known as temporal diastema when they are growing up.
This changes when their development reaches the age when their baby teeth fall out at about 8 or 9 years old.
These gaps usually close naturally when the adult teeth reach maturity. If they have not closed after the adult canine and incisor teeth have appeared, the gap may be permanent.
Oversized Labial Frenum
Additionally, an oversized labial frenum may be a cause of gaps between teeth. This tissue goes from the inside area of the upper lip, right to the gum of the upper front teeth.
If this labial frenum is large, it can interfere with the front upper tooth by growing between the teeth.
This growth would eventually cause a gap between the two front teeth.
8 Methods On How To Fix Gaps Between Teeth
Braces can be used to close gaps. Braces apply pressure on gappy teeth which helps them move into the desired position closing gaps in the process.
When braces are installed, the whole mouth has to be braced. All the teeth would be affected by the movement of the next tooth.
To avoid creating new gaps whilst getting rid of others, braces are worn in the whole mouth.
Bonding is another method in which dentists close gaps. This practice, also known as white fillings, helps to cover small gaps.
This is an unreliable method as it can chip or wear off with time. One would need to periodically polish the bonding so that it remains efficient.
Porcelain veneers may also be used to cover up gaps in teeth.
This is done by applying porcelain pieces that match the surface of teeth.
The tooth is shaved before application of the veneers. The custom-made porcelain is then attached to the present tooth, extending the tooth size, and closing the gap.
It is very thin but effective and efficient as it lasts for at least 15 years. Its efficiency and effectiveness do make it an expensive option.
Dental implants may be another method in which one may cover a big gap between teeth.
This is a process in which a false tooth replaces missing teeth. Here, a dentist inserts metal screws in the jawbone which are used to hold in the replacement teeth.
Oversized Labial Frenum Surgery
If the diastema is a result of oversized labial frenum then one can treat this gap through surgery. This non-invasive, simple procedure is known as a frenectomy.
It is a process in which one has excess tissue removed from between teeth. Once removed, the teeth have no hindrance and room to close.
Treat Gum Disease
Treating gums is another way in which gapped teeth may be corrected.
As mentioned earlier, having gum disease may lead to loss of teeth or loose teeth. Some disease-causing infections can be easily fixed.
Through a process known as scaling, tartar (or dental calculus) and bacteria causing infections are removed from the gums. If one has a severe case, to carry out the same procedure, surgery would be employed.
Once the gums have been given attention and seem healthy, then your dentist may now recommend further methods. Such as the application of braces to position teeth in the desired placement to close gaps.
Teeth Gap Bands
Teeth gap bands are another option in which gaps between teeth may be closed.
These bands are applied on teeth with a gap in between to close the gap. They are worn for 12 hours every day until reaching a point where the required position of teeth and gap closure is achieved.
Although many people seem to be ignorant about this method, it actually is very cheap. One would only need to purchase a band with no frequent visits to the dentist like other methods require.
In this method, one will be removing and replacing the orthodontic elastic bands on their own.
Another interesting method is that of plastic retainers. These are specifically recommended for gaps caused by the shifting of teeth.
One only has to wear the plastic retainers when you have the opportunity. These are removable, making them desirable.
You may choose to wear them at night, thereby eliminating the self-conscious factor when wearing them in public.
They have a reputation for being very cheap but effective.
Prevention of Gapped Teeth Reappearance
There are many precautions and actions that can prevent gaps from occurring between your teeth.
Good Oral Hygiene
To avoid the reappearance of gapped teeth, one can practice good hygiene.
If gapped teeth had initially been caused by gum complications, then one has to practice extreme oral hygiene. This will prevent infections that threaten the strength of bones that hold down teeth.
If these bones are damaged, one is likely to go through the whole process of dealing with gapped teeth again.
This oral hygiene may include brushing teeth at least twice a day and flossing every single day.
Thumb Sucking Remedies For Children
The reoccurrence of gapped teeth can be avoided by stopping thumb sucking. Children need to be stopped from this practice.
Cessation of thumb sucking can be achieved through the following remedies:
Application Of A Crib
This is a type of brace that is placed on the upper front teeth to help stop thumb sucking.
This is successful as these braces make the practice uncomfortable. The discomfort will lead a child to let go of thumb sucking.
One may make the child wear gloves before they sleep.
This will stop them from putting their thumb in their mouth because of the barrier.
Apply Bitter Solution To Thumb
One may apply a bitter solution to thumbs. When a child starts sucking, the bitter taste will be offputting.
If done regularly, this technique may have the child completely letting go of the practice.
Keep Children Occupied
A child may end up sucking thumbs if they are bored and have nothing else to play with. This problem can be eradicated.
Make sure a child has a variety of toys to pick up. This ensures they are always holding one and are distracted.
They might forget about tongue sucking completely.
Praise For Good Behaviour
Praise a child when they do not suck their thumbs and reward them for this good behavior.
This may reinforce the fact that thumb sucking is not desirable.
Avoid Tongue Thrusting
Avoiding tongue thrusting is a preventative measure that eliminates the reappearance of gaps. Tongue thrusting is an incorrect swallowing technique.
You can correct this using an exercise.
- Get a small orthodontic rubber band.
- Place the band over the tip of the tongue.
- Apply pressure on that area pressing it against the back top area of the upper front teeth.
- Whilst doing this, the lips should be separated.
- Swallow making sure that lips do not come together but ensuring teeth do not come apart.
Gappy Teeth Treatment Summary
Gaps between teeth are not a serious issue.
They may cause problems with speech affectation and a drop in self-esteem. But both of these are fixable with the various methods explained in this article.
Those who address the issue mostly do it just as a cosmetic move.
Those who do not feel comfortable about the gaps being visible when they smile or talk end up fixing them.
If one has these gaps as a result of gum disease, then attention should be given to the problem.
There are several causes, but there is also a selection of methods for the correction of the gap.
One needs to prevent the reappearance of these gaps by letting go of bad habits. Instead, practicing good hygiene and cultivating good habits is important.
Is a front tooth gap bad?
No – there is no medical reason for a gap between the front teeth to be bad if it is naturally occurring. Generally, children lose the gap with their permanent teeth. In adults, it is mainly a cosmetic reason to get the gap corrected.
Why is my tooth gap getting bigger?
If the gap between your front teeth is getting larger consider if you have a bad habit that is creating this. One bad habit is tongue thrusting. This happens when you push your tongue against the front teeth instead of against the roof of your mouth when swallowing. The continued pressure will push the teeth further apart.
Do gaps in teeth get bigger with age?
Gaps can increase as you get older. The reason for this is that teeth do shift naturally with age.
How do you fix a gap in your teeth?
Gaps between teeth can be fixed fairly quickly and easily. Dental composite resins are an instant fix with dental bonding filling the spaces and making the teeth look even. Alternatives are crowns, traditional dental veneers, and braces or retainers.
How long does it take to close teeth gaps?
On average a normal gap will take approximately 6 to 9 months to close if braces or retainers are the methods of treatment.