It refers to a space between the teeth. These spaces can be formed anywhere in the mouth, but sometimes they are felt between the two upper front teeth.
This condition affects both adults and children. In children, the gaps may disappear once their permanent teeth grow.
Some spaces between the teeth are small and barely perceptible, while others are larger and a cosmetic problem for some people. If you do not like the way the gap looks, there are ways to close it or reduce its size.
Causes of a diastema
There is not a single cause of a diastema, but rather several possible contributing factors. In some people, this condition is related to the size of their teeth and the size of their jaw bone.
Spaces can form when a person’s teeth are too small for the jaw bone. As a result, the teeth are widely separated.
The size of your teeth and jaw bone can be determined by genetics, so diastemas can be hereditary.
You can also develop a diastema if there is an overgrowth of the tissue that borders your gum line and your two upper front teeth. This excessive growth causes a separation between these teeth, resulting in a space.
Certain bad habits can also cause a gap between the teeth. Children who suck their thumbs can form a gap because the suction movement puts pressure on the front teeth, which makes them move forward.
In older children and adults, a diastema can develop from incorrect swallowing reflexes. Instead of the tongue being placed on the roof of the mouth while swallowing, the tongue can push against the front teeth.
Dentists refer to this as a lingual push. This may seem a harmless reflex, but excessive pressure on the front teeth can cause a separation.
Diastemas can also develop from gum disease , which is a type of infection. In this case, the inflammation damages the gums and the tissue that holds the teeth. This can lead to the loss of teeth and spaces between the teeth.
The signs of gum disease include red and swollen gums, loss of bone, loose teeth and bleeding gums.
Treatment for a diastema may or may not be necessary depending on the underlying cause. For some people, a diastema is nothing more than a cosmetic problem and does not indicate a problem such as gum disease. The brakes are a common treatment for the diastema.
The brakes have wires and brackets that put pressure on the teeth and move them slowly, which closes the space. Invisible or removable keys can also fix some cases of diastemas.
If you do not want braces, talk to your doctor about cosmetic procedures to fill in the gaps between your teeth. Veneers or union is another option.
This procedure uses a compound the color of a tooth that can fill holes or fit over the teeth to improve the appearance of your smile.
This procedure is also useful for repairing a cracked or chipped tooth. You can also be a candidate for a dental bridge, which can replace a missing tooth or correct a space.
If the gums on top of the two upper front teeth are overstretched and cause a gap, surgery to remove the excess tissue can correct the separation.
You may need orthotics to completely close the larger gaps.
If your doctor diagnoses you with gum disease, you should be treated to stop the infection before seeking treatment to close a gap.
The treatment for gum disease varies, but may include scraping and brushing the root to remove hardened plaque (tartar) from above and below the gums. This eliminates the bacteria that cause the disease.
Severe gum disease may require surgery to remove the tartar that has accumulated on the gums. Surgery may also involve the regeneration of bones and tissues.
Perspective and prevention of diastemas
For those who seek treatment for diastemas, the perspective is positive. Many procedures can successfully close a gap. In addition, treatments for gum disease can restore bone health and stop inflammation.
Some diastemas are not preventable. But there are ways to reduce the risk of developing a gap.
This includes helping your children break the habit of sucking their thumbs, learning the proper swallowing reflexes and practicing good oral hygiene.
Be sure to brush your teeth and floss regularly, and see a dentist twice a year for regular dental exams and cleanings.