What is Diastema?
Diastema is a condition, where there is space or gaps between the teeth. These spaces in the teeth can occur anywhere in the mouth; however, are more noticeable and more commonly occur between the upper two front teeth. Diastema affects both children and adults. In children, the gaps can disappear after the growth of their permanent teeth.
Some gaps in diastema are quite small and hardly obvious, whereas, there are some gaps in the teeth, which are quite big and become a cosmetic concern for some people.
What Are The Causes of Diastema?
Size of the Teeth & Jaw Bone. There are many potential causes or contributing factors for diastema. In some people, diastema is connected to the size of the teeth and the jaw bone. The gaps in diastema can develop when the teeth are very small sized in relation to the jaw bone. This results in spaces between the teeth. Diastema can run in families, as genetics also determine the size of a person’s teeth and jaw bone.
Thumb Sucking. There are certain bad habits, which can also contribute to diastema or formation of a gap between the teeth. The habit of thumb sucking in children leads to formation of a gap between the teeth, as the sucking motion exerts pressure on the front teeth and pushes them forward resulting in gap between them.
Gum Overgrowth. Diastema can also occur as a result of an overgrowth of the tissue, which lines the gum line and upper two front teeth. Due to this tissue overgrowth, there is a separation between the upper two front teeth causing a gap between them.
Incorrect Swallowing. In adults and older children, diastema can occur due to incorrect swallowing. When a person normally swallows, the tongue is positioned at the roof of the mouth; but when the tongue is pushed against the front teeth during swallowing, this leads to diastema or formation of gaps between the front teeth. This condition is referred to as tongue thrust by the dentists.
Gum Disease. Gum disease can also cause formation of diastema. Inflammation of the gums causes damage to the tissue and gums supporting the teeth. This can result in loss of tooth and gaps between the teeth.
Symptoms of Diastema
Diastema symptoms are very obvious, as the gaps between the teeth can be clearly seen. Some people may have very small gaps, which are not that noticeable.
People with diastema or gaps between their teeth also have difficulty in biting into their food and also face the problem of having the food get stuck in the gaps between their teeth.
How Is Diastema Treated?
Diastema may or may not need treatment; it all depends on the underlying cause. Diastema in some people is only a cosmetic concern and doesn’t indicate serious problem.
Braces for Treating Diastema. For people who want diastema treated should visit a dentist. The most common treatment for diastema is braces. Braces have brackets and wires, which put pressure on the teeth and gradually move them together resulting in closure of the gap eventually. Removable or invisible braces also help fix some cases of diastema.
Cosmetic Procedures to Fix Diastema. If braces are not the desired treatment for diastema, then there are certain cosmetic procedures, which can be done to fill gaps between the teeth. Bonding or veneers is another treatment option for diastema. These cosmetic procedures for treating diastema involve the use of a composite, which is the color of the tooth and is used to fill the gaps between the teeth or they are fitted over teeth so that the gaps are covered. This cosmetic procedure is also used for fixing a chipped or cracked tooth.
A dental bridge can also be used for treating diastema, which actually is used to correct a gap or replace a missing tooth.
Surgery for Treating Diastema. If the cause of diastema is overgrowth of the gums above the two upper front teeth, then treatment consists of surgery where the excess tissue is removed to correct the gap in the teeth. After the surgery, braces are used to completely close the larger gaps between the teeth.
Scaling & Root Planing. If gum disease is the cause of diastema, then treatment consists of treating the gum infection before initiating the treatment to close the gaps between the teeth. Treatment for gum disease consists of root planing and scaling to remove the plaque and bacteria causing the gum disease.
If the gum disease is severe then surgery is needed to remove the hardened tartar, which is collected deep inside the gums.
Prognosis and Prevention of Diastema
The prognosis of diastema is excellent; especially with treatment. There are many treatment procedures, which can successfully close the gaps between the teeth in diastema.
To prevent diastema, children should be gently discouraged to stop the thumb-sucking habit. It is also important to learn the right swallowing reflexes along with practicing good oral hygiene. Yearly visits to the dentists also help in managing and preventing diastema.