Gaps Between Teeth

Tooth gaps are an interesting phenomenon in dentistry because there is not a universal opinion regarding them. Some people find them unattractive and desire to close them cosmetically.  Others, however, think they are appealing and want to mimic the movie stars and musicians who proudly beam their gapped tooth smiles. 

Causes of Teeth Gaps

When it comes to spaces between the teeth, the causes are many. We like to categorize them into natural causes and pathologic (or disease-type) causes. The natural ones are not preventable, but the pathologic ones are.

Size Discrepancy

The natural cause of tooth gaps is typically a size discrepancy. Either the teeth are too small for the size of the jaws, or the jaws are too big for the size of the teeth. A size discrepancy can affect just a single tooth or all of the teeth. There is a “correct” size of teeth in relationship to the size and shape of a person’s face. Often, it is easy to tell that the teeth are too small for the face and jaws.  

Dental Disease

Two specific dental problems can also lead to gaps between the teeth: periodontal disease (gum disease) and bruxism (teeth clenching and/or grinding). Severe periodontal disease destroys the bone and gum tissues supporting the teeth and holding them in position. As these supporting structures are lost, the teeth gradually begin to flare and spread apart.  

In the case of heavy clenching or grinding, known by the scientific term bruxism, even with healthy supporting tissues, the heavy forces can put an outward pressure on the upper front teeth. This often leads to a flaring and gapping of those teeth.

Ways to Close Teeth Gaps

If you happen to find the gaps between your teeth unattractive, we can help.  In closing the spaces to achieve the best appearance of your smile, the most important thing is understanding the underlying cause. There is not one single “fix” to correct the problem.  

For example, if the cause of the tooth gaps is undersized teeth, then the appropriate treatment is to enlarge the teeth with cosmetic dental treatments like porcelain veneers or dental crowns. If, on the other hand, the teeth are normal in size, you would not want to enlarge them making them disproportionate to the size of your face.  Instead, you should opt for orthodontic treatment to move the teeth and close the gaps.

When gaps are the result of gum disease, you must treat the underlying disease through professional periodontal treatment to achieve stability first. Then you can orthodontically move the teeth to close the gaps.  In the case of bruxism, you must move the teeth with orthodontics first, and then protect them from the heavy forces by wearing a hard nightguard during sleep. A nightguard, worn consistently, will also act as a retainer to keep the teeth in place and prevent any future gaps.

Premier Dental Closes the Gaps

Let one of our experienced dentists review your mouth and provide options for closing the gaps between your teeth. We are committed to providing dental care that impacts your overall dental health, and teeth gaps will make our dental cleanings and general dentistry services more effective - Plus you get a great smile! Find the Premier Dental location that is near you and schedule an appointment today.

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