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Attractive smiling woman with gap between her front teeth

Gapped Teeth

While some gaps in your smile are a harmless cosmetic quirk, larger spaces can cause issues such as inefficient chewing.

If you are self-conscious about gapped teeth or need treatment to improve your oral health, your dentist can recommend a solution.

Do I need to worry about gaps?

Attractive smiling woman with gap between her front teeth

Gaps Are Common for Children and Usually Harmless, But Sometimes Require Treatment

Gaps between Baby Teeth

Known as diastema, gaps between teeth are especially common in kids. As children grow up, these spaces tend to close naturally when the adult teeth erupt.

Permanent Diastema

If gaps remain after all the adult teeth erupt, they become permanent and will require professional diastema treatment.

Gaps from Missing Teeth

Another common type of gap is caused when teeth fall out or require extraction. These types of gaps require prompt treatment to prevent serious side effects, such as shifting teeth.

Three types of gaps between teeth Three types of gaps between teeth

Different Types of Gaps Require Different Treatments

A gap left by an extracted tooth will involve a different treatment process – such as a dental bridge – than gaps caused by natural jaw development or childhood habits.

Genetics and Childhood Habits Can Increase the Chance of Diastema

Many of the factors which cause gaps and other types of misalignment are genetic, including the size of your teeth and jaw. Often, gapped teeth run in families.

Certain bad habits which are common in childhood can also lead to the development of gaps, including thumbsucking.

There Are Many Reasons You May Develop Gaps in Your Smile

Large Frenulum

A frenulum or frenum refers to the band of tissue under the top lip, underneath the tongue, and inside the cheeks. If the tissue is longer than normal, it can cause gaps between the front teeth, either in the top or bottom jaw.

Extra Teeth or Small Teeth

Smaller than average teeth or extra teeth that block others from coming in can leave gaps in your smile.

Large Jaws

In some cases, the jaw is relatively large compared to the size of the teeth.

Missing Teeth

You may have been born without certain teeth, which leaves a space behind in the jaw.

Diastema Are Very Common in Young Children

50% of kids ages 6-8 have gaps between their front teeth

However, this percentage decreases dramatically with age. Most childhood gaps will close on their own as permanent teeth erupt.

*According to a study by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry.

Your Doctor Can Tell You If Your Gaps Need Treatment or Not

For many patients, gaps are simply a cosmetic concern but some diastema can affect your oral health. Leaving large gaps untreated can cause other teeth to shift or increase your risk of gum disease. It is important to ask your doctor about gaps in your smile.

During your appointment, the doctor will examine your smile to assess the health of your teeth and gums. They may also take an x-ray or another type of scan to examine the tooth roots and see if any teeth are trapped below the gums, causing gaps. Be ready to discuss your medical and dental history so your doctor can determine the cause of your diastema.

Dental x-ray

While Most Diastema Are Hereditary, Early Evaluation May Help Prevent Issues

Minimize Bad Habits in Childhood

If you are concerned about your child developing gaps, you can help their jaw develop properly by stopping thumb sucking and pacifier use at an appropriate age. Ask your doctor about the best time to wean children off of these habits.

Consult an Orthodontist Early

The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends all children see an orthodontist by the age of seven. This early evaluation can help identify potential problems and implement strategies to ensure teeth erupt properly.

Maintain Good Oral Health

Since issues such as periodontal disease can cause gaps to form between teeth, proper brushing and flossing can help prevent gaps from forming. You should also attend regular cleanings and exams to ensure your gums remain healthy.

Preventing Gaps Requires Early Intervention

"Not all diastemas can be treated the same... Timing is often important to achieve satisfactory results." Wen-Jeng Huang, DDS and Curtis J. Creath, DMD, MS

Orthodontic Treatment Is a Common Way to Correct Gaps

Braces and other orthodontic treatments, such as Invisalign®, are commonly used to fix diastema. Orthodontics can adjust teeth to close gaps and create a healthier, more comfortable bite.

Illustration of braces Illustration of braces

Contact a Doctor Today

If you feel self-conscious about gapped or missing teeth, you have many options to improve the health and appearance of your smile. Find out more about your next steps by contacting a doctor today.

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New Jersey Dental Centers

Our dentists and team of qualified professionals want every patient to love their smile. They are members of trusted dental organizations, including:

  • American Dental Association
  • New Jersey Dental Association
  • International Congress of Oral Implantologists
  • Academy of General Dentistry

Our dental care is affordable, and we offer flexible financing options to help you pay for treatment. To schedule a consultation at one of our 14 locations, call or contact us online.

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