Ask a Dentist

June 4, 2021

Q: What Is Diastema And Does It Need To Be Treated?

Girl with a gap between her front teeth smiling.

Every smile is unique. Although it seems like there is only one ideal beauty at times, those “traditional” beauty standards are getting tossed out the window every day in Manitoba and across Canada. A unique smile can capture people’s attention and even redefine what a “beautiful smile” looks like. If you have a gap between your two front teeth, there might have been moments when you’ve showcased that unique beauty.

In the dental world, that gap between the teeth is known as a diastema. If you have diastema, there may have been times when you’ve felt this look wasn’t for you and you’ve wondered about treatment options. Dental Therapy Image Centres is here to help.

What You Need To Know About Diastema

A person with diastema has extra space—or a gap—between two or more teeth. Diastema is most commonly found near the two front teeth of the upper jaw area, but gaps can develop between any teeth.

Children often experience diastema as their primary teeth fall out and, in most cases, these spaces close as their permanent teeth grow in. Ninety-seven per cent of five-year-old children have midline diastema, typically in their primary teeth. As permanent teeth erupt, the percentage drops to 48.8 per cent in children between the ages of seven to 12. 

What causes diastema? Diastemas can be attributed to a tooth size discrepancy, missing teeth or an oversized labial frenum (the tissue that extends from the inside of the lip to the gum tissue where the upper two front teeth are located).

Is diastema hereditary? While the gap between your teeth can be caused by environmental factors such as bad eating habits or babies and toddlers sucking their thumb too often, this study suggests genetic predispositions can cause midline diastema. Jaw bone size, mouth shape and permanent tooth size can be attributed to genetic factors, which means diastemas can be passed down through generations as well.

Mind The Gap 

Not every diastema case needs correcting as it mainly depends on the patient’s needs, expectations and requests.

Many forms of therapy can be used for diastema closure. Common space closure treatments include:

  • Keeping the diastema. Tooth gaps typically do not pose any health threats, so patients can choose to keep their diastema.
  • Orthodontic treatment to move the teeth and close the diastema. Orthodontic correction often results in a sensible esthetic improvement and is well accepted by patients. 
  • Using porcelain veneers - thin shells of porcelain or composite resin custom made to fit over your teeth.
  • Crown and bridgework or replacement of teeth with implants (adults only)

If you have an oversized labial frenum, you may be referred to a periodontist for an oral consultation and surgical procedure called a frenectomy. According to the Journal of Clinical & Diagnostic Research, this procedure reduces the size of the frenum to shape the tissue. 

If the frenectomy is conducted on a child, space between the teeth may close by itself. If it is conducted on a teenager or an adult, the gap may need to be closed with braces.

A consultation with your dentist is crucial to determine the right treatment plan for you. Schedule an appointment at one of the Dental Image Therapy Centres clinics today to improve your oral health and promote a lifetime of smiles! We are conveniently located in St. Vital Centre and Garden City Shopping Centre.