First impressions count, as anyone will tell you who has had a job interview that went wrong from the first minute. They shouldn’t, but they do, and your mother was right when she said you should
put your best foot forward with a warm, friendly smile .If you’re holding back because you feel self-conscious about a gap between your teeth, however, that will come through to the person you’re meeting and seem like a lack of confidence.
The good news is that closing a tooth gap between your front teeth is possible, and while there are several ways to do it, the best method ultimately depends on the cause of your particular gap.
Identifying the Cause
A gap between two teeth is a condition called diastema, and it can happen to anyone at any age. The gap’s favourite spot to develop is right in the front of the mouth between the two central teeth. If this happens to a child, chances are good the gap will disappear with the arrival of permanent teeth, but if it happens to an adult that’s unlikely.The most common causes of a diastema include:
- Having small teeth. People who have small natural teeth might find their teeth aren’t accurately sized for their jawbone area. This causes them to erupt further apart than they should, which means they aren’t stable and supported in their positions. If there’s space to move, your tooth will find it, and once it moves, it creates a gap on one side or the other.
- Extra gum tissue between your two front teeth. You’ve seen this before, when someone has a space between their teeth and the gum tissue seems to push its way into the gap. Although the gum overgrowth is caused by having an available space into which to grow, the growth puts additional pressure on the teeth to separate even further.
- Thumb sucking. Yes, most people outgrow this in early childhood, but anyone whose habit goes on past the arrival of permanent teeth might cause damage with the pressure of the thumb behind the top front teeth. This can cause them to loosen, shift or protrude, resulting in a gap.
- Gum disease. Anyone with untreated gum disease is at risk for tooth loss, and once you lose one the others start to move to fill the empty space, resulting in gaps between your teeth. It’s vitally important to always replace a missing tooth with a bridge, crown, or dental implant. While you’re waiting to have this done, you can get a partial denture to keep your other teeth secure.
- Incorrect swallowing. This has the same effect as thumb sucking, which is pressure on the back of the front teeth. The tongue can push the teeth forward to the point that a gap starts to form.
Depending on the cause of your gap-toothed smile, you might be able to choose whether to repair it or not. Many people have lived very active and successful lives without closing a tooth gap, so it’s entirely your decision.
Ways to Close the Gap
Our dental clinic in Scarborough has a number of options for resolving these gaps. Removable retainers are great if your problem isn’t too severe, but they take a bit longer than some of the other methods. In addition, you might find you have to wear a retainer on and off for many years to prevent the teeth moving again.
Orthodontic treatment is a common method, because whether you are eligible to use Invisalign or need traditional metal braces, both of these will apply pressure to your teeth and move them closer to each other. Your choice of options depends on how severe the condition is.
Dental bonding can help if your tooth gap is small, or if it’s the result of a chipped or cracked tooth. Your dentist will use tooth-coloured composite material to fill the gap, which looks exactly like the rest of your natural teeth. Porcelain veneers help to cover damaged teeth, and can be extended to cover dental bonding material if the dentist has to rebuild a broken tooth.
If you’re closing a tooth gap that’s fairly large or you have an actual missing tooth, a dental bridge attached to the teeth on either side supports an artificial tooth in its place. You can also choose to replace a missing tooth with a dental implant, which is an artificial tooth mounted on a metal post that’s inserted into your gum.
Patients who have gum diseases will need to have treatment for the infection before addressing the gap. This could include scaling and root planning of the teeth and/or a surgical procedure to remove tartar from the gums.
For more information on how closing a tooth gap will change your life, please contact us to schedule a consultation.