Have a gap between your front teeth? The old wives tale says it’s good luck. But for a lot of us, it’s just a nuisance that makes us feel self-conscious about our smile. The good news is, in many cases, it’s an easier fix than ever. And your dentist can do it right in their office – no braces required!
What Causes the Gap Between My Front Teeth?
The front tooth gap (officially known as a maxillary midline diastema) happens when there’s half a millimeter or more between the top front teeth. It’s more common than you think, with the American Dental Association (ADA) estimating that somewhere between two and 25 percent of adults live with a teeth gap.
In many cases, the gap is caused by teeth being on the small side in relation to the jaw. This leaves more room for spaces between the teeth, including the very noticeable front tooth gap. Other causes include missing teeth at the back of the mouth, which cause front teeth to shift, or an enlarged frenum (the flap of tissue connecting the lip to the gum) which can push the front teeth apart.
Should I Be Concerned About the Gap Between My Teeth?
For most patients, the gap is mainly an aesthetic issue; though it can cause low self-esteem since some patients are concerned a gap may not look attractive. And the issues may go beyond looks – in some cases, a gap can cause a misaligned bite or lip biting – or may affect speech, according to the ADA.
What’s the Best Solution For a Gap Between My Teeth?
In the past, orthodontic treatment has been the go-to solution for diastema. But terrific new dental materials have created a quicker and easier solution that doesn’t require expensive and time-consuming orthodontic work. When the front tooth gap is the only concern, and there aren’t other underlying orthodontic problems, dentists are currently opting for sculpting gorgeous front teeth with natural-looking composite resin.
Fixing your gap with resin bonding is an easy, one-visit procedure that involves “building up” the incisors or front teeth with a natural-looking overlay. It’s a non-invasive and relatively inexpensive procedure that doesn’t require drilling or removal of any of the underlying tooth (as with crowns or veneers). It’s simply applied on top of your healthy, intact teeth and sculpted by your dentist.
How Does Closing the Gap With Resin Bonding Work?
Your dentist will choose malleable resin material in a color that matches your teeth. Then, they’ll clean your teeth and apply a liquid cement to keep the resin in place. In most cases, to create the desired look, your dentist will apply the resin-based composite on the four front teeth, known as “building up” the incisors. Your dentist will then sculpt the putty-like resin into shape, harden it with an ultraviolet light, before finally polishing it even and smooth. And one of the best parts: the whole process usually takes less than an hour!
How Do I Care For My New Front Teeth?
Because composite resin can be susceptible to staining, it’s important to limit coffee and other staining beverages. Avoid smoking (ask your dentist if you need help quitting) and bad habits like nail biting or teeth clenching that put pressure on your front teeth. Finally, be careful when eating hard or crunchy foods. If you choose resin bonding as a solution for your gap, the best way to make sure the gap doesn’t return is by following the guidelines above and taking great care of your teeth with regular brushing and flossing. You should also be aware that you cannot change the color of bonded teeth with whitening products.
What If Bonding Won’t Work For My Gap?
When your front teeth have other problems beyond the gap, such as damage or severe discoloration, your dentist may recommend a porcelain veneer. This is a more complex procedure than bonding that requires removal of underlying enamel. It’s usually a multi-visit process because the veneer is made by an outside lab and is pricier than bonding, but is a great solution for folks with bigger cosmetic problems they want to correct.
If your gap is related to more problematic orthodontic issues, your dentist may refer you to an orthodontist for braces or a removable retainer to close your gap. But either way, Greenhill Family Dental Care is your first and best resource for figuring out what solution works best for you and helping you bridge that gap and get the smile you want. Call us today to book an appointment!