According to a 2012 survey conducted by the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, when participants were asked, “what types of things do you consider make a smile unattractive?” one of the most common answers was “gaps & spaces in teeth.” The spacing of your smile is crucial to its appearance. Many people feel less confident and attractive or even embarrassed due to the gaps in their teeth. In some cases, these gaps may also be unhealthy. Fortunately, Dr. Craig Armstrong and our Houston dental team are here to help you resolve these issues. We frequently assist patients with this condition, filling the gaps in their teeth for more complete, beautiful smiles. Read on to learn more about how to treat gapped teeth and learn how we can assist you.
“Diastema” is the technical term for a gap between teeth. As Colgate Oral Care Center explains: “it appears most often between the two upper front teeth. However, gaps can occur between any two teeth.” The majority of children have some form of diastema, and many adults have gaps in their teeth, as well. There are a few different causes for this condition. Diastema may occur due to:
- A large labial frenum. According to Colgate Oral Care Center, “the labial frenum is the piece of tissue that normally extends from the inside of your upper lip to the gum just above your two upper front teeth. In some situations, the labial frenum continues to grow and passes between the two front teeth. If this happens, it blocks the natural closing of the space between these teeth.”
- Tooth size relative to your jaw. Some people simply have smaller teeth in proportion to their jaws, leaving spaces between them as they grow in.
- Lost teeth. Of course, in children, this is typically a temporary condition (although some children may not develop all their permanent teeth, leaving a space in the smile). Adults may need to have teeth removed due to severe injury, infection, or decay, creating a gap.
- Tongue thrusting. Some people naturally push their tongue against their teeth as they swallow, which can drive a wedge between the teeth.
These are just a few of the most common sources for gaps.
Ultimately, many patients want to treat diastema because this condition affects the look of their smiles. In addition, gaps can trap oral bacteria, raising your risk for infection, decay, and sores.
One approach to treating diastema is with braces. Orthodontic treatment gradually shifts your teeth for a more ideal placement within your jaw. Braces or clear aligners can straighten crooked teeth and remedy smaller gaps. Larger spaces may be more difficult to treat with orthodontia, since this may involve significantly shifting the surrounding teeth.
The Royal Treatment
If you have a mild to moderate gap due to having smaller teeth, Dr. Armstrong may be able to correct it with an attractive porcelain dental crown. This is a cap placed over the top of your tooth, designed to look and feel like enamel. Dr. Armstrong can craft one or more crowns to your specifications, making your prosthesis larger than your actual tooth to fill the space.
Bridging the Gap
Dr. Armstrong often recommends porcelain fixed bridges to patients with larger gaps or those resulting from tooth loss. A dental bridge involves a crown on either side supporting an artificial tooth in the middle. In addition to filling the gap and enhancing the appearance of the surrounding teeth, porcelain fixed bridges can help return the function of your smile if you have lost teeth, making it easier for you to speak and chew.
The Power of Porcelain Veneers
This treatment involves placing thin layers of porcelain over the front and sometimes sides of your teeth. Porcelain veneers are perhaps the most versatile cosmetic treatment, since they can instantly solve dozens of cosmetic imperfections, including gaps in the teeth. If you opt for this treatment, Dr. Armstrong will customize your porcelain veneers to your preferences. Because they cover the surfaces of your teeth, these slim porcelain shells easily can hide gaps and make small teeth appear larger, as well as immediately straightening and whitening your smile.
Are You Ready to Treat Your Gapped Teeth?
You don’t have to feel self-conscious about your diastema or worry about gum infections in your gaps. Contact our Houston dental practice today to learn more about our gapped teeth treatments and schedule an appointment with Dr. Armstrong.