What do model Lauren Hutton, songstress Madonna, and actor Samuel L. Jackson have in common? They each share the trait of gapped front teeth. This trait, which actually is fairly common — affecting up to 25% of American adults, according to the American Dental Association (ADA) — is known in the dental profession as a diastema.
Having a gap between upper front teeth is a genetic trait and occurs more often in Black males who are more prone to the trait than females.
Once felt to cause an awkward appearance when smiling, adults today are more comfortable with a disastema, largely due to celebrities who have refused to
let the trait interfere with smiling with pride. After all, can you imagine Lauren Hutton without her smile as it is or Michael Strahan smiling any differently than with his now-famous gap?!
We believe the most important part of smiling has to do with the health of a smile. When teeth and gums are healthy, smiling with confidence is a perk of good oral health. However, some smile traits can make smiling seem awkward for some individuals. In addition to gapped teeth, having a gummy smile (which exposes too much gum tissue above teeth in a full smile) can cause some to ‘hold back’ rather than smile joyfully.
If a diastema is causing you to feel less than comfortable when smiling, you’ll be pleased to learn that filling this space can often be done in just one or two visits, and very affordably. We begin by assessing the width of the gap. When the open space is minimal and the two front teeth are not wide, we may be able to focus treatment on just those two teeth.
However, filling a wider gap by trying to widen the two front teeth can result in “bunny teeth.” To avoid this, it may be necessary to involve more than just the two gapped teeth. The material that is used may also depend on the width of the gap. The one recommended for you will be explained. The two options typically used for correcting a diastema are:
• Bonding – This treatment uses a tooth-colored composite resin that is painted onto natural teeth. The material is carefully shaped to fill in the space between the teeth. The procedure often requires just one visit and numbing needs are minimal. The process begins with a careful shade matching so the composite resin blends naturally with the color of the teeth involved in treatment. Then, the teeth are ‘roughed’ and a conditioning material is applied so the bonding adheres properly. After the bonding has been shaped and contoured, an ultraviolet light is used to harden the material. Finally, the material is polished to a natural sheen.
Although bonding is an affordable option that can repair flaws in a single visit, its drawbacks should be considered. For example, bonding material isn’t as strong as porcelain, which is used in veneers and crowns. This makes bonded teeth are at greater risk for chips. Bonding material also stains or yellows more easily.
• Porcelain Veneers & Crowns – The closest thing to the durability and longevity of natural teeth is porcelain. Superior to any other material used in cosmetic dentistry, porcelain restorations even reflect light as a natural tooth and can provide an opalescence so natural no one would suspect you’ve had ‘dental work’. Porcelain is highly durable (a particular advantage for front teeth) and more resistant to staining. For wide gaps, just four or six veneers can recreate a smile beautifully while eliminating the former space.
For some gaps between teeth, moving natural teeth into proper alignment through orthodontic treatment may be the best option. We work with several exceptional orthodontists and can request an evaluation to determine if your diastema requires this type of treatment.
Keep in mind that realigning teeth may not only close the space between your teeth, it may help to create a healthier smile. Teeth that are in proper alignment are easier to keep clean and help you avoid problems associated with misalignment, including TMJ disorder. This can lead to teeth that are chipped, broken or worn as well as jaw joint pain, headaches, migraines, ear ringing, dizziness, night-time clenching and/or grinding, and jaw popping.
Begin by scheduling a free consultation to discuss the options that may be best for you. During this time, I can also have our Financial Coordinator discuss affordable payment plans that can break treatment fees into easy monthly payments.