There can be a lot of confusion about whether having gaps in your teeth is a good or bad thing. Here, dental experts weigh in to debunk common myths about gapped teeth.
Myth: Having a gap between your front teeth is a sign of good luck.
Some cultures believe gaps in teeth are lucky, but a gap between teeth, called diastema, is a common occurrence. Teeth gaps frequently occur in young children whose permanent teeth have not come in yet.
“A gap between teeth has nothing to do with luck but is known to be a genetic trait,” Mariya Malin, DDS, tells WebMD Connect to Care. “It is mostly caused by a low position of the lip muscle attachment to the gums in the middle right between the two front teeth on the bottom or the top,” Malin says.
This piece of skin that connects the lip to the gums is called the frenum. “Surgery to remove the frenum may be required to close a gap,” John Pham, DDS, MS, co-founder and CEO of InBrace, tells WebMD Connect to Care.
Other causes of gaps between teeth include undersized teeth, extra or missing teeth, and habits like tongue-thrusting and finger sucking, according to the Journal of the American Dental Association.
Myth: Using toothpicks or dental floss increases gaps between teeth.
According to the American Dental Association, maintaining proper dental hygiene is important for good dental health. A good hygiene routine includes regular flossing twice a day to remove plaque between the teeth and thereby reduce the risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
Using dental floss is not considered a risk for developing gaps between your teeth, since flossing is recommended daily.
However, while toothpicks also do not increase teeth gaps, they can cause irritation to the gums and should be used with caution. “Toothpicks can be very damaging to the gums and are not recommended by most dentists,” Malin says.
Myth: Gaps in teeth always require orthodontic treatment.
Orthodontic treatment such as braces or invisible dental aligners are not necessarily needed to close gapped teeth unless the gaps are causing a problem with the health of the gums or the proper functioning of the teeth.
“If there is no traumatic bite and gums are not being damaged, orthodontic treatment might not be required, but suggested for cosmetic purposes,” Malin says. Many people prefer to get orthodontic treatment to close teeth gaps for an improved appearance.
Cosmetic dental treatment can also be used to improve the appearance of teeth.
“Another approach is to fill the gaps with cosmetic dental work that increases the size of your teeth like veneers, though this approach cannot be performed for everyone, as it is dependent on good alignment of the teeth,” Pham says.
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