Dentistry is filled with many fancy or intimidating sounding terms, and diastema is one of them. The good news is that it’s a big term for something that’s generally small and benign: diastema (plural diastemata) is the medical word for a gap between the teeth. While diastemata can have several causes, the most common are either a dis-balance between the size of the teeth and the size of the jaw, or pulling by the tissues of the lip during development. So what are the medical implications of diastema and what can you do about it? Let’s take a look.
Causes and Treatments
As we’ve said, diastemata in adults are most likely caused by structural issues with the tissues of the mouth. In children, diastemata are fairly common as the baby teeth fall out. However, in most of those cases, the gaps close when the permanent teeth come in and the problem solves itself naturally. Other causes of diastema in children may include bad swallowing habits that push the tongue against the top teeth or thumb sucking. If caught early before permanent teeth emerge, these can be fairly easy to treat.
Some diastema is caused by gum disease which has progressed too far. If that’s the case, the dentist will generally want to treat the gum disease first before correcting the diastema or diastemata. This will generally involve a thorough cleaning of the teeth and possibly antibiotic treatments.
If you have a diastema and seek dental treatment for it, the first step will be to determine the actual cause of the condition. Once a dentist or other oral health care provider has figured that out, they’ll suggest one of several courses of action to deal with it. These most often include the following:
- Keeping the diastema. For many folks, a diastema is totally benign and cosmetic, requiring no medical treatment to prevent further damage. If that’s the case, you may elect to keep your diastema and embrace it as a personal trademark.
- Traditional braces are a common treatment for diastemata. By putting slow and steady pressure on the teeth, braces can pull them together and close the diastemata permanently.
- Veneers or bonding are another option—they use composite material to artificially close the gap between teeth. A dental bridge can fill the same role.
- Surgery may be one option depending on the cause of the diastema. If gum tissues have overgrown and pushed teeth apart, removing them may be part of correcting the diastema.
While your situation is unique and your dentist will make the right recommendations for you, these are the most common treatments employed while correcting a diastema. Most of the time it’s an easy fix, with minimal discomfort to the patient.
A more modern option for some patients seeking treatment for their diastema may be Invisalign treatment. Similar to traditional braces, Invisalign seeks to slowly and steadily move the teeth into the desired position. Invisalign treatments are discreet and easy to wear, with minimal disruption to the patient’s day to day life. Your dentist can tell you if Invisalign is right for you, but it fills many of the roles previously held by traditional braces. At BlueWave Dentistry we’re experienced in Invisalign treatments, and can help you determine if they’re right for you. Get in touch today and we’ll make an appointment to discuss your options as soon as possible.