First things first - having a gap between teeth is not necessarily a bad thing. Teeth gaps are common and in some instances can be quite attractive. Unless you genuinely feel the need to close the gaps between your teeth, it may not be necessary (from an oral health perspective) to do so.
By contrast, some gaps between teeth are more problematic than others. This applies to teeth gaps between the front teeth, back teeth or any other teeth in the mouth, which without treatment often lead to oral health and hygiene issues.
It is only when teeth gaps have the potential to cause health problems that they are considered severe. Cosmetic closing of teeth gaps is technically optional, though could be important for those who find it difficult to take pride in their smile.
As for the good news - closing the gap between your teeth is something that can be achieved in a variety of ways. It can also be a painless and relatively straightforward form of orthodontic treatment - your dentist will advise on the best solution available.
Irrespective of whether the issue is cosmetic or medical in nature, consulting with a professional at the earliest stage is the way to go.
What Causes a Gap Between Your Teeth?
The formal medical term for gaps between the front teeth is diastema, which is a surprisingly common problem affecting adults and children alike. Gaps between teeth don’t exclusively affect the front teeth, though this is the most prevalent form of problematic spacing brought to dentists for treatment.
As for why a gap in your teeth may occur, there are various reasons that can increase the risk of diastema:
#1. Jaw Bone Size
Your jaw bone grows significantly as you transition from childhood to adulthood, which can lead to problematic spacing out of the teeth where a jaw bone is particularly large. This often manifests as a gap between the teeth at the front of the mouth.
#2. Tissue Overgrowth
It can also be that the tissues between the teeth grow excessively or in an abnormal way, pushing the two teeth in opposite directions and creating a space between them.
#3. Thumb Sucking
When a child sucks their thumb or uses a pacifier when their teeth are first emerging from their gums, it has the potential to increase the risk of crooked teeth and other dental health problems.
#4. Gum Disease
Research suggests that the overwhelming majority of adults will develop gum disease at some point during their lifetime. While most mild cases of gum disease can be corrected with good everyday oral hygiene, more severe cases that are not treated can lead to damage and deterioration of the gums - perhaps resulting in gaps or even tooth loss.
Identifying the cause of the problem and any possible issues with your dental health is the most important step in the process. This will ensure your dentist knows whether there are any underlying issues that also need to be corrected while working to close the gap between your teeth.
Why Is It Important To Correct Teeth Gaps?
In most instances, problems associated with teeth gaps are purely cosmetic in nature. Small gaps rarely pose a direct threat to the health and wellbeing of the patient in question, but may nonetheless be considered unattractive.
That said, all gaps between the teeth can make it more difficult to practice good oral hygiene. These are the places where germs, bacteria, food debris and plaque can quickly accumulate, resulting in a long list of problems if left unaddressed.
Bad breath, gum disease, infections, tooth loss - all attributed to problematic gaps between the teeth.
In addition, a gap between the teeth could also make it difficult to bite down or chew properly. Gaps can create problems with eating, ultimately leading to digestive complications and further health issues.
During your consultation, your dentist will explain to you whether you require treatment for health reasons, or if the issues you are experiencing are purely cosmetic in nature. At which point, the various treatments you are a viable candidate for will be presented and discussed, along with the recommendations of your orthodontist.
How Can You Close The Gap In Teeth?
The good news in all of the above is that there are many treatments available for closing gaps in teeth, which in the vast majority of instances are relatively straightforward and painless. The most appropriate treatment will be recommended by your dentist, which will most likely be one of the following:
1. Dental Bonding
This is the fastest and simplest approach of all, which involves the insertion of a tooth-colored resin (designed to match the color of your natural teeth) directly into the gap. Once it has hardened in place, the gap is effectively closed.
Dental bonding is an extremely fast and affordable form of treatment, which can often be completed within a single appointment. However, it is not a permanent solution and may need to be removed and reapplied in years to come.
Veneers may also be recommended by your dentist, which is essentially porcelain veneers or ceramic prosthetics fixed to the teeth to correct issues with shape, size, appearance and positioning.
One of the best things about veneers is the way in which they can be made to look identical to natural teeth so that nobody will know you have had them fitted. This is also considered a more permanent solution to the above.
3. Braces, Invisalign or Candid
What makes the difference between braces and Invisalign or Candid treatment is the way in which these options seek to physically close the gap between the teeth in a natural way - not simply cover it up with some kind of prosthetic.
Whether or not this is a viable option will be determined during your appointment with a professional orthodontist. Typically, small gaps between the teeth are much quicker and easier to fix with braces and Invisalign devices than more extensive gaps.
4. Dental Implants
Where gaps between the teeth are particularly severe, a course of treatment that involves dental implants may also be recommended. While this typically tends to be the most expensive treatment option available, it also has the potential to produce the most impressive and permanent results.
Your dentist will help you decide on the best solution, in accordance with your requirements, your goals and your budget.
How Long Does It Take To Correct Problems With Teeth Spacing?
Rounding things off, the amount of time it takes for a treatment plan to deliver effective results varies on the basis of numerous factors. The general oral health of the individual in question, the cause of the issue, how small or large the gap is between their teeth and so on.
Likewise, the form of treatment recommended will also impact how long it takes to close the gap. Porcelain veneers are relatively quick and easy to apply, and dental bonding can be performed within a single visit. With braces and similar alignments devices, it can take anything from six months to two or three years to have the desired effect.
Nevertheless, the result in all instances is the same - a smile to be proud of. Irrespective of how long it takes, it is worthwhile for the confidence and pride that accompanies a beautiful smile.