Has an orthodontist expressed concern over the gap(s) in your teeth?
There’s more to it than aesthetics, especially since many people find gaps in teeth charming. However, not all orthodontists have a healthy chairside manner or the skills to fully explain why the gaps in your teeth should be closed. Sometimes, leaning too much on the “improve your smile” line overshadows real troubles that gaps in teeth can cause.
Big gaps can lead to poor tooth alignment at any point in your life, since the teeth bordering the gap have nothing to control movement. This can lead to bite problems and even pain.
Tooth gaps in children are normal and healthy, since children are still growing into their smiles. You’ve likely seen that most children have gapped teeth, but it’s not nearly as common in teens and adults. This is why orthodontists want to wait until adolescence to assess whether a gap is harmful and may need orthodontics.
Is Your Gap Bad?
Not all gaps are cause for concern. Smaller gaps can provide that touch of character that makes your smile shine. However, diastemas (gaps in adults) that are too big or are bordered by unhealthy teeth can cause new problems or exacerbate existing ones. Only your orthodontist can determine if your gaps require treatment.
Sometimes gaps aren’t natural at all, but a result of certain behaviors such as tongue thrusting. You may or may not realize you have such a habit, but a reputable orthodontist can spot it quickly.
In these cases, the solution may be twofold: Orthodontics may be required, but so might conscious efforts or treatment to stop these habits. If the habits continue, they will eventually overpower the results of orthodontics.
Very rarely, serious conditions may be the cause of tooth gaps. Tumors in the mouth or jawbone can sometimes cause gaps. Occasionally you can see or feel these growths, but sometimes not. If you’re concerned about tooth gaps, talk to your orthodontist about the slim chance of a tumor.
Gum disease is another serious issue that can lead to gaps, and can effect anyone of any age. Gum disease means jawbone loss, and over time this means gaps. Regular visits to your dentist can help stop, correct and prevent gum disease.
Closing the Gap
Treatment for gaps depends on the cause, severity and the goals of the orthodontist and patient. One of the most common approaches is teeth bands, which are affordable and unnoticeable. However, teeth bands should only be applied and used under an orthodontist’s care (do not try a DIY approach, as this can cause irreparable harm).
Braces, retainers, oral surgery and cosmetic dentistry also might be recommended.
If you’re uncomfortable with the diagnosis you get from your dentist or orthodontist, get additional opinions. You’re ultimately in charge of your oral health — gaps and all — so make sure you find a professional and a solution that makes you comfortable.
To find out if the gaps in your teeth are harmful, make an appointment to see the specialists at Johnson Elite Orthodontics today.