Madonna has one, so do Anna Paquin, Kirsten Dunst, and the singer Jewel. These famous celebrities all have a diastema, which is a gap between teeth. For these stars with professional hair and makeup artists, the gap between their teeth is part of their character. However, for the average person, it is often something that makes people self-conscious. Many with a diastema avoid smiling. It can also lead to more serious dental issues. There are dental procedures that can improve and hide a bothersome gap between the teeth.
Causes of Diastema
Several things can lead to a tooth gap reports the Colgate Oral and Dental Health Resource Center. Having small teeth with a large jawbone is just one reason. Thumb sucking as a child, missing teeth, and the tongue pushing on the teeth when swallowing can also cause diastema. An enlarged labial frenum, the tissue connecting the inside of the lip to the gum, can also push the two front teeth apart causing extra spacing. Periodontal disease causing gum swelling and resulting in tooth movement is another possible cause. In some cases, teeth are missing due to a congenital defect causing extra spacing between teeth as can be seen at Manhattan Ortho.
Health Problems Associated with Diastema
A diastema can cause some health problems. If the gap is caused by a thrusting tongue, the gap may continue to widen. As this happens, the teeth may become loose and cause pain. If the gap is a result of periodontal disease, then health issues beyond the tooth gap such as tooth loss and even heart disease, can result reports the Mayo Clinic.
Fixing a Diastema
To fix a diastema, you would need to see your dentist and usually an orthodontist. A dentist can treat any periodontal disease that is causing the gap and advise you on proper dental hygiene to prevent further gum disease. At an orthodontist, you can explore more fixes that are permanent. Braces to move the teeth closer together, surgically reducing the labial frenum, tooth bonding, dental bridges to fill in missing teeth, and attaching a splint between the teeth affected to keep them in place are all options that an orthodontist can provide.
According to the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, the prognosis is good when the gap is closed by an orthodontist. However, patients do need to follow their orthodontist’s instructions for wearing a retainer or other follow up care so the gap does not return.
Both adults and children can have a diastema. If you or your child has a gap between the teeth that bothers you, do make an appointment with a dentist. The cause needs to evaluated and addressed first. Then your dentist can refer you to an orthodontist to fix the gap. With several treatments available, treatment for diastema is individualized. It may take several months and several trips back to the orthodontist, but treatments for diastema are generally very successful.
Leonaro Dawson is a retired orthodontist of several years who still likes to help people have healthy smiles. You can find his informative articles on various dental and health blog sites.