Diastema (Gap Teeth)


    What do Arnold Schwarzenegger, David Letterman and Madonna, among a few more other celebrities, have in common aside from being famous? Gaps in their teeth! These gaps are called diastema and they are usually found in between the two front teeth of the upper jaw although they may be found in between other teeth as well. Children, at a certain point in their lives, have these gaps in between their temporary teeth as they make way for the bigger permanent teeth that are about to come out.

    One cause of diastema is  the discrepancy between the tooth size and the size of the jaw bone, i.e., some teeth may be too small for  a relatively large arch thus the presence of spaces in between these teeth. Still another cause is the difference in tooth size itself. This is commonly seen in some lateral incisors (the teeth beside the two front teeth) when they are undersized. Congenitally missing teeth also cause diastema and oftentimes, these lateral incisors are the ones missing. An oversized labial frenum (the tissue that runs from the inner part of the upper lip to the gums in the area of the two upper front teeth) may interfere in the natural closing of the space in between the incisors thus causing a space. Gum diseases that result in bone loss makes the teeth loose causing spaces in between.

    The treatment plan for diastema is based on the cause of the spaces. Sometimes, orthodontic treatment is warranted in cases where the diastema is only a part of a set of oral problems. Veneers, crowns or bonding may be the treatment of choice for undersized teeth. If the cause of the space is due to missing teeth whether because they were extracted or are congenitally missing, dental implants or partial dentures (fixed or removable) may be done to close the gap. Frenectomy or the surgical reduction of the labial frenum may be done if the frenum causes the space. If the problem is caused by diseases of the gum or other soft tissues in the mouth, a gum specialist (periodontist) will do the treatment. However, sometimes the diastema may be left untreated. 

    So if you see a gap between your teeth or your child's teeth, visit your dentist so he can assess the situation and be able to recommend the most suitable treatment.