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Diastema: Causes and Treatment Methods for Gaps Between Teeth

24 June 2022

Categories: Braces, Invisalign
3D rendering of diastema

Diastema is a condition where you have a space or gap between your teeth. This can occur between any teeth in the mouth, though it’s commonly observed between the upper front teeth.

The choice to keep the space between teeth has been increasing in popularity. However, deciding whether to correct the gap depends on the ease of maintaining your dental hygiene and personal preference.

Learn more about the types of diastema, causes and treatment options available. We also share some fun facts about gaps between teeth below!

Diastema can occur between any teeth in your mouth. The common types of gaps include midline and mandibular diastema.

  • Midline diastema

Midline (or median) diastema refers to a gap between the 2 upper or lower front teeth.

  • Mandibular diastema

This type of diastema refers to a gap between any of the lower teeth.

Diastema may be commonly observed in children as they grow and lose their primary teeth. Over time, as their adult teeth and upper canines grow, these gaps are likely to close.

Aside from these, other causes of diastema include the following:

  • Small Teeth

    Having some teeth that are smaller than others could result in a diastema.

    This commonly occurs between the upper lateral incisors, which are the teeth beside each upper front teeth.

  • Missing Teeth

    If some of your teeth are naturally missing (this condition is known as hypodontia), your remaining teeth may shift to fill the gap.

    This may result in a diastema.

  • Size of Teeth Relative to the Jaw

    If your teeth are smaller as compared to your jawbone, you may observe gaps between your teeth.

    Also, as the size of your teeth and jawbone are inherited, this condition can be hereditary.

  • Tongue Placement

    Swallowing incorrectly can cause your tongue to push against your upper front teeth, forming gaps over time.

    The posture of your tongue can also exert pressure on your lower front teeth, causing a diastema.

  • Gum Disease

    Poor oral hygiene can lead to gum disease and inflammation.

    This can, in turn, damage the bone and tissue that support your teeth. Over time, your teeth may shift and become loose, resulting in diastema.

  • Undesirable Habits

    Oral habits such as sucking your thumb or lip and thrusting the tongue can cause your front teeth to shift.

    This can result in an open bite and gaps between teeth.

  • Enlarged Labial Frenum

    The labial frenum is the muscle tissue found between your upper front teeth.

    Abnormal growth of the frenum can cause it to become too large in size, creating a gap between your front teeth.

Diastema can be observed by a visible gap between any 2 teeth.

If this condition is a result of gum disease, you may also observe other signs and symptoms such as:

  • Loose teeth
  • Tooth pain
  • Discomfort
  • Inflamed gums (red, swollen, tender)
  • Receding gums
  • Bleeding gums
  • Bad breath

Deciding whether to fix a diastema is up to personal preference. If oral hygiene is maintained, the condition may not result in other dental issues. However, it may be a cosmetic concern for some individuals.

Here are some treatment methods for diastema:

Close the Gap

These treatment methods involve closing the gap by shifting your teeth.

Braces

Braces are orthodontic devices used to correct various teeth alignment issues including diastema. They help shift your teeth, allowing you to achieve your desired smile.

Traditional and self-ligating braces are 2 types of fixed braces and they can come with metal or ceramic brackets.

Frequency of dental visits: Every 4 weeks
Cost: $4,173 – $6,206 (including GST)

Invisalign

Invisalign aligners are removable braces that help with teeth straightening and closing of gaps. They’re almost invisible, allowing for a more natural look even while undergoing treatment.

These aligners offer a more comfortable treatment as gentle, consistent pressure is applied to shift your teeth.

Frequency of dental visits: Every 6 – 8 weeks
Cost: $4,815 – $9,095 (including GST)

Fill the Gap

These treatment methods close the spaces between your teeth by filling the gap.

Teeth Bonding

Teeth bonding is the process of applying a tooth-coloured composite resin material to your tooth. It will be made to look as similar to your tooth as possible for a natural look.

On average, the material can last for 1 to 8 years. After which, you’ll need to visit your dentist for treatment again.

Cost: $96.30 – $192.60 per tooth (including GST)

Dental Veneers

Veneers are thin covers made from composite or porcelain. They’re attached to your teeth and are a quick way to improve the appearance of your smile. 

They can be used for 1 tooth or a few teeth. With proper care and maintenance, porcelain veneers can last for 5 to 15 years.

If your tooth is too small or is damaged due to tooth decay, your dentist may recommend a dental crown instead.

Cost: $267.50 – $2,140 per tooth (inclusive of GST)

Dental Crowns

Dental crowns are caps made to fit over damaged teeth. They help to restore their appearance, including their shape and size, and can even close gaps between teeth.

These dental caps can be made of materials such as resin, porcelain, ceramic and metal. With proper care, they can last up to 15 years.

Cost: $749 to $1,391 (inclusive of GST), depending on the condition of the tooth

Dental Implants with Crowns

Dental implants serve to replace the roots of your natural tooth. Once the surrounding bone tissue has grown and healed, a dental crown will be placed over the artificial root. 

This treatment method is useful for diastema resulting from tooth loss or hypodontia.

Cost: $3,745 – $6,955 per tooth, including crown (inclusive of GST)
Claimable under MediSave for up to $1,250 per tooth

Address Underlying Issues Before Fixing Diastema

If the gaps between your teeth are a result of gum disease or an enlarged frenum, you may require other forms of treatment before fixing the diastema.

Gum Disease Treatment

In the case of gum disease, your dentist will typically start with gum treatment before fixing the diastema. 

For milder cases, medication, root planing or scaling and polishing may be recommended.

Cost of scaling and polishing: $64.20 – $160.50 (inclusive of GST)
Cost of root planing: $160.50 – $535.00 (inclusive of GST)

Surgery

Surgery may be required before treating a diastema if the gap is caused by conditions such as advanced gum disease or an enlarged frenum. 

After the surgery, your dentist will advise on the next steps for fixing the gap between your teeth.

Cost: $695.50 (inclusive of GST)
Claimable under MediSave

Fun Fact #1: Having a gap between your teeth is a sign of beauty

Did you know that individuals with gaps between their teeth are regarded as beautiful and attractive in some cultures? Some people may even choose to widen these gaps for beauty!

 

Fun Fact #2: Having a gap between your teeth is a sign of good luck

Aside from being a sign of beauty, gaps between teeth are also seen as a sign of good luck in certain cultures. In fact, a French term for gap teeth is “dents de la chance”, which directly translates to “lucky teeth”!

 

Fun Fact #3: Having a gap between your teeth may mean that you’re losing your wealth

In Chinese culture, it’s commonly believed that the gaps between your teeth indicate that you’re losing your wealth. Hence, many Chinese prefer to fix the spaces between their teeth.

 

Fun Fact #4: Many famous celebrities have diastema

If you’re concerned about your appearance, you may be glad to know that many popular celebrities such as Elton John and Eddie Murphy are rocking the gap teeth look! So if you’ve got them, don’t be afraid to flaunt your natural feature.

FAQs

No, diastema is not a deformity. It’s a condition that can be caused by reasons such as poor dental hygiene, oral habits, genetics and other dental conditions.

Yes, it can be. The size of your teeth and jawbone are inherited from your parents and small teeth can result in diastema.

Yes, as your teeth are constantly shifting, it’s possible for the gaps to grow bigger with age. This is especially so for younger individuals whose jaws are still growing.

Regular dental appointments can help to identify and correct these gaps before they become pronounced.

Diastema can be left untreated depending on your condition and personal preferences. 

Your dentist may advise correcting the gap if it’s caused by gum disease. Treatment may also be recommended if it gets challenging to maintain good dental hygiene or if your speech is affected. However, if it’s a cosmetic concern, you can decide whether to leave or close the gap.

Depending on the cause of the diastema, you may or may not be able to prevent it from occurring.

If gum disease or certain oral habits are the cause of the condition, it can be helpful to cultivate these positive habits:

  • Flossing your teeth daily
  • Brushing your teeth 3 times a day
  • Avoiding thumb or lip sucking and tongue thrusting
  • Correcting improper swallowing reflexes
  • Visiting the dentist for regular teeth cleaning and examinations

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