You may have never heard the word before, but odds are you have experienced diastema at some point, or at the very least know someone who has. Although gapped teeth are considered by many to be lucky and even quite attractive, there are several methods for treating diastema that some patients choose to undergo. Read on to find out more about this condition and how Bunker Hill Dentistry can resolve it for you if you desire. What Is Diastema? The clinical word to describe a gap between two teeth, diastema is an Ancient Greek word that means “interval or space between.” Diastema is most common between the top two incisors, where it’s known as a maxillary midline diastema, or MMD. But diastema can occur between any two adjacent teeth, and it’s extremely common for children to experience it at least once during their development, especially around ages 6-8. According to a recent study published in the Open Journal of Stomatology, 12-19-year-olds were by far the most likely age group to have a positive diagnosis, although the study did not include children under 12. Many studies have put the prevalence of diastema in that age group at upwards of 95%. Adults can experience diastema, as well, when diastema from childhood inherited via genetics does not resolve on its own or the teeth move later in life. This can be caused by tongue piercings, an oversized frenum (the tissue between your upper front teeth and your gum line), bad oral habits or even gum disease, which can loosen teeth and create gaps. Generally, diastema is considered to be mild when it’s under 2 mm in width, while 2 mm is classified as moderate and above 2 mm severe. Should Diastema Be Treated? Despite the serious-sounding name, in most cases diastema is strictly an aesthetic issue and therefore not something that has to be treated at all, unless the patient wants to. Still, if the diastema is due to an issue such as gum disease, at least that underlying cause must be resolved to prevent further damage. Treatments for Diastema at Bunker Hill Dentistry Whether your diastema is mild or severe, genetic or inadvertently created, we have several effective methods for closing gaps and giving you a smile you’re confident in. Dental Bonding What is dental bonding? Direct composite bonding is the application of a tooth-colored resin to a tooth, where it hardens to repair cracks or chips, fill cavities, or in this case, close gaps between teeth. Pros & cons of dental bonding Getting bonding is quick, painless, and cost-effective, and it offers excellent results that can last for years. However, it’s not a permanent solution. It will have to be replaced down the road, and it can be susceptible to staining. Bonding is also not the optimal solution for severe cases of diastema, and it works better on teeth on the upper jawline, rather than the lower, because they offer more surface area to work with. Dental bonding at Bunker Hill Dentistry Porcelain Veneers What are veneers? Veneers are thin, contoured pieces of porcelain, ceramic, or resin-based composite that are placed over the front of a tooth to cover discoloration, chips, or diastema. At Bunker Hill Dentistry, we use porcelain in our veneers, carefully color-matched to the rest of your natural teeth. Pros & cons of porcelain veneers Veneers are a popular alternative to diastema treatments like braces because they involve a simple procedure that is completed in a few easy visits. They also require less tooth enamel removal than crowns. They are very durable, don’t stain, and can last as long as 20 years. Porcelain veneers can chip or break though, if you grind your teeth. They’re also one of the more expensive treatments for diastema. And because they need a certain amount of natural teeth to support them, veneers may not work for large teeth gaps. Veneer treatment at Bunker Hill Dentistry Braces Patient with clear braces. What are braces? A classic diastema treatment, dental braces are systems of brackets glued onto teeth connected by metal wires that gently pull teeth into place over the course of treatment. They can often resolve teeth gaps on their own or they can be used in conjunction with another treatment such as bonding to narrow a large gap to a more manageable width. Braces pros & cons Braces can be challenging to live with, particularly since treatment times typically range from at least a year to 18 months. Wearers have to avoid sticky and chewy foods to keep from pulling brackets loose. And unless they’re self-tightening, braces must also be tightened by the dentist periodically, which may result in some discomfort over the few days afterward. But braces are a tried and true treatment for diastema. They’re relatively affordable and in fact are often covered by dental insurance plans. Patients also have more options today for less noticeable braces than simply metal brackets, including ceramic (tooth-colored) braces with white-coated wires, and clear braces. Getting braces at Bunker Hill Dentistry Invisalign Invisalign treatment uses a series of clear aligners to slowly re-position the teeth. Photo credit: Carrie A. What is Invisalign? Invisalign works similarly to braces in that it resolves diastema by moving teeth into the proper position. But instead of metal brackets and wires, the Invisalign system uses clear, removable aligner trays to straighten teeth and close gaps. Pros & cons of Invisalign In contrast to traditional braces, Invisalign is barely noticeable, doesn’t interfere with your diet (since aligners are removed while eating), and is more affordable. It can be used for even severe cases of diastema, although they may require longer treatment times. Being able to remove them is a big plus for many patients, although they must be worn overnight. You do have to take appropriate care and cleaning of your aligners, or they can stain. The freedom that comes with being able to take them out may also be a drawback if you’re unable to stick to keeping them in your mouth for 22 hours every day. If you take them out more than that you risk weakening their efficiency and lengthening your treatment time. Invisalign and other orthodontic solutions at Bunker Hill Dentistry Frenectomy What is frenectomy? Thick gum tissue that can extend between the top two teeth and cause a gap is called the frenum. In a frenectomy, the dentist reshapes or removes this tissue in conjunction with another diastema treatment to close the gap. Frenectomies are most advisable after orthodontic treatment for diastema has concluded, as it may turn out the surgery is not necessary once the gap is closed. Pros & cons of frenectomy A frenectomy is relatively quick and painless, although there may be some mild pain during the short recovery. Because it’s a form of surgery, there are minor associated risks of bleeding, infection, anesthesia side effects, and pain and swelling. Placement of a bonded retainer may be necessary after a frenectomy to promote stabilization of the teeth and healing of the gums. Dental Bridge Source: Authority Dental. What is a dental bridge? If you have diastema due to missing teeth, a bridge may be the solution. A bridge is a false tooth attached on each side to a crown. The bridge is then placed where the false tooth fills the gap created by the missing tooth or teeth, and the crowns are attached on top of natural adjacent teeth to hold the bridge in place. Bridge pros & cons The need for healthy teeth around the missing tooth on which to attach the bridge can disqualify some patients from getting bridges. It also won’t address the problem of bone loss, which may be the root cause of your diastema. On the plus side, placing a bridge does not require surgery and is more affordable than a dental implant, although a dental implant is longer-lasting. Dental bridge treatment at Bunker Hill Dentistry Dental Implant Source: Authority Dental. What are dental implants? Another method for treating gaps caused by tooth loss or other instances of severe diastema, a dental implant is an artificial tooth mounted into the jawbone via a titanium post. An implant is a permanent fixture and an excellent cosmetic option. Implant pros & cons Although a more expensive modality, implants look natural, are easy to clean, and can improve chewing and speaking problems created by missing teeth. The treatment process is fairly involved, taking upwards of six months to plant the post, give it time to heal, and place the crown. Patients may experience swelling and/or soreness in the days after surgery, but the result will be a perfect tooth replacement that lasts a lifetime. Dental implants at Bunker Hill Dentistry Why Bunker Hill Dentistry? Dr. Le and his wife and office manager Ann Le Specialists – Dr. Le and our experienced team can resolve gaps in teeth with an effective solution that is best-suited for your diastema. Serene setting – Our office is designed to provide a calm, relaxing environment to help put your mind at ease during treatment. Take a tour. Client satisfaction – We have one mission – total client satisfaction. “Care, Comfort, Convenience”is our guarantee to every client. More about Bunker Hill Dentistry. Reception room at Bunker Hill Dentistry State of the art – We utilize other advanced technology such as the i-CAT 3D x-ray machine, All-On-4® implants and an anesthesia-delivery wand, for faster and more accurate diagnosis and treatment. Conveniently located – Located in Memorial, just a short drive from Houston’s city center. Find us on the map. How to Prevent Gaps in Teeth Diastema is most commonly caused by teeth being too small for the mouth, relative to the size of the jawbone. As this is a result of genetics, there’s no way to prevent it from happening. However, gaps created by bone loss can be avoided by following a good oral routine of brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist for a checkup twice per year. Avoiding bad habits such as thumbsucking–which can push the upper teeth forward and create gaps–will also help prevent diastema. Make an Appointment and Treat Your Diastema Get in touch with the friendly team at Bunker Hill Dentistry and we’ll evaluate your diastema and give you a full range of recommendations so you can find just the right treatment. Schedule An Appointment Not been to Bunker Hill Dentistry before? To help you prepare for your first visit, read our new patient information page.