One of the most annoying dental problems is to have a gap or space between teeth, especially if it is the front teeth. Generally, some spacing between the teeth is normal. But sometimes, the gap is wide enough to cause problems such as food getting stuck and an unwanted change to the smile.
Reasons for space between teeth
- A high ‘frenal attachment’ which means the tissue connecting the gums to the upper lip is at a higher position than normal. This makes the front two teeth slowly shift away from each other.
- If the jaw is large while the tooth size is relatively small, then the teeth erupt further apart which gives the appearance of gaps.
- When there is the decay of the sides of two adjoining teeth, a gap may be created between the two teeth.
- If the patient suffers from constantly swollen or inflamed gums or gum infection, it can create gaps between the teeth.
- In children, the teeth move unfavorably in cases where the child is habituated to thumb-sucking or other harmful oral habits.
- Some patients might get a tooth pulled out, which causes the other teeth to shift into that empty space. As a result, gaps may form between the front teeth due to all the extra space.
- If you are constantly using a toothpick or not using the right method to floss, gaps begin to appear between the teeth.
Consequences of spacing
Once spaces are formed between the teeth, the first thing you notice is that your smile is not as pleasing as it once was. This affects your overall look which can reduce self-confidence.
Additionally, it can be uncomfortable to eat because whatever you eat tends to get stuck in the gaps between your teeth. Due to this, more bacteria and plaque – which is a soft white deposit – can collect in the spaces over a period of time. Consequently, this increased collection of debris and bacteria can cause swelling of the gums or gum infections.
There are more serious consequences of not replacing the missing tooth. Not only the teeth present in front and back of missing tooth start drifting but also the tooth in the opposite jaw. This eventually disturbs the entire harmony of your mouth and causes TMJ (Temporomandibular joint) problems.
TMJ is the joint that connects your jawbone to the skull. This joint plays an important role during the chewing mechanism.
Treatment for space between your teeth
There are various treatment options for closing the space between your teeth:
‘Orthodontic’ treatment aims to realign the teeth in a proper way by the use of braces or other orthodontic appliances. Generally, a dentist or an orthodontist prescribes braces for children in the age group of 9 to 12 years of age. This is because most of the jaw development occurs at this age.
However, adults of all ages can undergo orthodontic treatment depending on their case. Your dentist will recommend metallic braces, ceramic braces or transparent braces (such as Invisalign) depending on your case and preference.
In many cases, the patient does not require orthodontic treatment. If there is a gap between the front two teeth, there is an option of getting composite fillings done to close the gap. This is possible when the tooth size is relatively small and so on, depending on the case.
A dental veneer is a thin covering, placed over the visible part of the natural teeth. Veneers can be used to correct uneven teeth, crooked or a gap between the front teeth.
A gap due to a high frenal attachment calls for a frenectomy in which they surgically cut the attachment, after which the dentist gives you an orthodontic appliance.
Contrary to some opinions, ‘scaling’ or Teeth cleaning and polishing does not cause gaps between the teeth. Some may believe this because cleaning gets rid of all the deposits between the teeth, which can give the feeling of increased gaps between teeth.
The teeth can develop spaces between them in older individuals with periodontal disease. This means that the patient has lost a lot of the bone which supports the teeth, which in turn loosens the teeth. As a result, there may be a ‘diastema’ or gap between the front teeth.
How do we prevent gaps from forming?
Not all gaps in the teeth can be prevented, for instance in case of a discrepancy in the size of jaws and teeth.
If you have a habit of pushing the tongue between the teeth, consciously break this habit by pushing the tongue on the roof of the mouth.
On the other hand, regular brushing and flossing can help you to avoid periodontal disease and bone degradation. So, you are less likely to have spacing in the teeth if you have good oral hygiene.
Make sure to consult with your dentist on a regular basis to take care of your smile!