A gap in the teeth is technically referred to as a diastema. While a diastema can refer to any gaps in the teeth, it’s most commonly referring to a gap between the front two teeth.
Gapped teeth are common, and are usually the result of tooth misalignment or the size of your jaw as related to the size of your teeth. While some patients have aesthetic and functional concerns about their gapped teeth, others won’t. Either way, orthodontic treatment is typically a very straightforward way to fix gaps for most patients .
But do you really need to fix the gaps in your teeth? Here’s what you need to know.
A Gap Between the Front Teeth Can Cause Crowded Teeth or Bite Problems
For some people with a larger gap between their two front teeth, this spacing may not leave enough room for the neighboring teeth to come in properly, which can cause issues with tooth alignment and corresponding bite problems .
These issues can cause jaw pain, crooked or crowded teeth, or even an increased risk for tooth decay or gum disease. Crowded teeth can make it difficult to properly clean each tooth, which can cause plaque to build up in the mouth.
If you have chronic or intermittent jaw pain, or have crooked or crowded teeth along with your gap, it could be time to seek an orthodontic evaluation.
For Some Patients, Gapped Teeth Could Be a Sign of Gum Disease
If you notice your teeth are changing and gaps in your smile are either developing or existing gaps are becoming wider over time, this could be a sign of gum disease.
When plaque and bacteria irritate the gum tissue, it can lead to chronic inflammation and infection, which are seen in cases of more advanced gum disease. As gum disease progresses, the connective tissue that helps hold your teeth in place is damaged, and teeth can become looser .
All of this in addition to receding gum tissue can cause your teeth to appear more gapped than usual. Gum disease doesn’t go away on its own, and will require professional treatment from your dentist to remedy!
Your Gapped Teeth May Be Fine
There are many reasons a person’s teeth might be gapped, from genetics to lifestyle factors to even oral disease as we’ve seen. But for some people, gapped teeth don’t cause problems, and many people choose to keep their gapped teeth and forgo orthodontic treatment.
If you have any adverse oral health symptoms, schedule an appointment with your dentist for an exam. He or she may refer you to an orthodontist for a more comprehensive evaluation of your gapped teeth to determine if they could be causing a problem.
Depending on your unique smile, gapped teeth may not be an orthodontic concern, although for some, they can be a cosmetic one. Getting treatment for gapped teeth is ultimately your choice, and your oral healthcare professionals can let you know more about your smile when you go in for an appointment!