iastema otherwise known as sapcings between the upper front teeth is the most common dental problems seen know-a-days. In this blog we will learn about the various causes or etiology and various treatment options for diastema.
What is diastema?
Diastema refers to a gap or space formed between the teeth. These spaces can form anywhere in the mouth, but are sometimes noticeable between the two upper front teeth. This condition affects both adults and children. In children, gaps may disappear once their permanent teeth grow in but in adults the spacings have to be treated.
Some gaps are small and barely noticeable, whereas other gaps are larger and become a cosmetic issue for some people. If you don’t like the way the gap looks, there are ways to close it or reduce its size which includes various treatments.
Causes of a diastema
There isn’t one single cause of diastema, but rather several possible contributing factors are present that may lead to spacing. In some people, this condition is related to the size of their teeth and the size of their jaw bone. Gaps may form when a person’s teeth are too small but the jaw bone is larger. As a result, teeth are spaced too far apart. The size of your teeth and jaw bone can be determined by genetics, so diastema can run in families.
You may also develop diastema if there’s an overgrowth of the tissue that borders your gingival line and your two upper front teeth or incisors. This overgrowth causes a separation between these teeth, resulting in a gap or diastema.
Certain bad habits may also trigger a gap between the teeth, children who suck their thumb may lead to formation of a gap because the sucking motion puts pressure on the front teeth, causing them to pull forward or leading to proclination.
In older children and adults, diastema can develop from incorrect swallowing reflexes. Rather than the tongue positioning itself at the roof of the mouth while swallowing, the tongue may push against the front teeth. Dentists refer it as a tongue thrusting habit. This may seem like a harmless reflex, but too much pressure on the front teeth can cause a separation.
Diastemas can also develop from gum disease, which is a type of infection of the gingival tissue. In this case, inflammation damages the gums and tissue supporting the teeth. This can lead to tooth loss and gaps between the teeth. Signs of gum disease include red and swollen gums, bone loss, loose teeth, and bleeding gums.
Treatment of a diastema
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 issue and it doesn’t indicate a problem like gum diseases.
- Braces or orthodontic treatment are a common treatment for diastema. Braces have wires and brackets that put pressure on teeth and slowly move them together, which closes a gap or the space. Invisible or removable braces may also fix few cases of diastema.
- If you don’t want braces, talk to your doctor about cosmetic procedures to fill gaps between your teeth. Veneers or bonding is another option for diastema. This procedure uses a tooth-colored composite material which can either fill gaps or fit over teeth to improve the appearance of your smile. This procedure is also useful for fixing a cracked or chipped tooth. You may also be a candidate for a dental bridge, which can replace a missing tooth or correct a gap or the spacing.
If the gums above your two upper front teeth overextend and cause a gap, surgery to remove excess tissue can correct the gap. You may need braces to fully close larger gaps.
Frenectomy is the surgical procedure for treating diastema.
If your doctor diagnoses you with gum disease, you must receive treatment to stop the infection before you seek treatment to close a gap. Treatment for gum disease varies, but may include scaling and root planing to remove hardened plaque from above and below the gums. This eliminates the bacteria causing the disease.
Severe gum disease may require surgery to remove tartar that has accumulated deep within the gums. Surgery can also involve bone and tissue regeneration.
Habit Breaking Appliances
- This is done in the initial stages to break the thumb sucking or tounge thrusting habits of the childrens which leads to formation of spacings or gaps after development of permanent teeth.
Outlook and prevention of diastemas
For those who seek treatment for spacing or diastema, the outlook is positive. Many procedures can successfully close the gap. Additionally, treatments for gum disease can restore bone health and stop inflammation also.
Some diastemas aren’t preventable. But there are ways to reduce the risk of developing a gap or a space. This includes helping your children break a thumb-sucking habit, learning proper swallowing reflexes, and practicing good oral hygiene. Make sure you brush and floss on a regular basis, and see a dentist twice a year for regular cleanings and dental examinations.