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What Is A Diastema in Dentistry?

By Manjari Bansal
An abnormal space or gap between teeth is called diastema. Find out more about diastema and how the condition can be fixed.

Have you been avoiding smiling because of gaps between your teeth? Spaces in between your teeth can affect both your smile and your oral health. Learn more about these dental gaps and what can be done about them. 

What Is Diastema in Teeth?

The medical term for a space or a gap between teeth is diastema. “It is most commonly found and noticed in the front teeth, although there can also be diastema in between the premolars,” Mahnaz Rashti, DDS, a periodontist in Beverly Hills, tells WebMD Connect to Care.

Both the upper and lower jaws have premolars. They’re the pairs of teeth that flank the canines located on either side of the four front teeth. 

Ideally, you should not have any gaps between your teeth after the eruption of all your permanent teeth. The adjacent surfaces of your teeth should also touch each other. 

But sometimes, the spaces between teeth do not close. According to a 2017 article published in Folia Morphologica, diastema can be caused by a number of factors, including:

  • Microdontia, or teeth that are a small size
  • Hypodontia, or teeth that are missing due to genetic causes
  • An excessive amount of teeth, also known as supernumerary teeth
  • A large or improperly-positioned tongue
  • Gum disease and resulting gum recession or jaw bone loss

Irregularities in the frenum between the upper front teeth can also cause diastema. The frenum is a soft tissue that attaches the gum to the upper lip. If the frenum’s placement is too low on the gum tissue, it may lead to a gap between the two front teeth.

Additionally, “if you have or had an oral habit, like sucking your thumb or a tongue thrust, this could create space between teeth,” Casey Lau, DDS, co-founder of ELIMS, tells WebMD Connect to Care. These habits put extra pressure on the upper front teeth and can cause them to move apart.

Besides affecting your confidence to smile, the spacing between teeth can also affect your oral health. Food tends to get trapped in gaps, which may lead to plaque buildup, cavities, and gum infection, according to the American Association of Orthodontists.

Lau tells WebMD Connect to Care that diastema treatment depends on its cause and severity. 

If the space between teeth is small, you’ll likely be able to opt for cosmetic or restorative solutions like bonding, veneers, or crowns. 

However, if the space is large, orthodontic treatment is often the best option. You can usually successfully address diastema with either braces or invisible aligners.

In cases of diastema caused by the frenum, you may need surgery to remove the frenum.

An orthodontist or professional online dental aligner provider can recommend the best treatment option for you based on an evaluation of your teeth and your lifestyle preferences.

Start your journey to a more confident smile today!

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