Front Teeth Have a Gap? Diastema Causes and Treatments

Posted by On 28-01-2021

Diastema? Yes, this is the term used for a gap or space between your teeth. These spaces are most troublesome when it occurs with front teeth or teeth that are noticeable when you laugh or open your mouth. While it might seem diastema is harmless, there can be issues associated with gaps. On the flip side, children with gaps might see them disappear slowly as the rest of their adult teeth grow in. While some gaps are barely noticeable, others can really affect the appearance of your smile. If you have a gap between your front teeth, there are different causes, and many options for treatment to help you perfect your smile.

What causes diastema?

There are several possible causes of diastema including:

  • The size of your teeth and jawbone: when your teeth are smaller, they might not fit into the jawbone and be spaced out as ideally as possible resulting in gaps.
  • Family history: things such as jaw and teeth size are often determined by genetics, so if someone in your family has diastema there is a greater chance you might too.
  • Tissue overgrowth: if the tissue bordering your gumline is overgrown, it can force your two front teeth apart, leaving a gap.
  • Thumb-sucking: some people think this is an old wives’ tale, but it is actually true. When children suck their thumb the sucking motion applies pressure to their front teeth. As a result, the front teeth can be pulled forward, causing a gap.
  • Incorrect swallowing reflexes: older children and adults can have incorrect swallowing reflexes which causes them to push their tongue against their front teeth when they swallow instead of putting their tongue to the top of their mouth. This is called a “tongue thrust” which causes a gap between the front teeth due to added pressure.
  • Gum disease: in some cases of gum disease, inflammation of the gums can cause gaps for a number of reasons including bone loss that can loosen teeth causing them to shift apart.

How is diastema treated?

Before recommending treatment, we will first do an assessment to determine the underlying cause of your diastema. For example, if you have gum disease, we will first treat that problem to see if it helps. In other cases, if it is strictly cosmetic, we would make recommendations based on the most effective treatment.

However, there are other factors to consider such as whether you grind your teeth at night. Grinding can cause damage to many cosmetic treatments, so it is important for us to consider all aspects of your dental health before making recommendations. That said, however, there are some common treatments we would consider including:

Braces or Invisalign

This is the most common treatment for people with large gaps either in their front teeth, or their entire mouth. Braces use wires and brackets affixed to your teeth to move your teeth into the ideal position. Braces require adjustments or “tightening” at a dental office to keep the teeth moving closer and closer together. However, today many people prefer Invisalign dental aligners over traditional metal braces.

This treatment works the same as braces to slowly ease your teeth into place. However, the Invisalign braces Milton patients choose use a series of removable aligners customized to fit their teeth. The aligners are replaced every two weeks with a new set, and each set is designed to move your teeth into position. They are preferred for treating diastema because they are invisible clear aligners that are removable.


The porcelain veneers Milton patients love are thin shells of porcelain bonded to the front surface of your teeth to help close the gap. They are very natural-looking and also resistant to staining over time. In order to apply porcelain veneers, we remove a thin layer of your enamel and take impressions of your teeth.

The impressions are sent to the dental lab where your veneers will be crafted, and temporary veneers are applied to protect your teeth while you wait for the veneers. When your veneers are ready we will set up an appointment to remove your temporary veneers. We prep your teeth using a mild chemical to help roughen them for the adhesive and then cement your new veneers to your teeth using a strong composite resin.

Dental Bonding

Cosmetic dental bonding uses a tooth-coloured resin to shape your teeth to improve their appearance. This can work to fill gaps providing a natural-looking appearance. Your teeth appear straighter and blend perfectly with the rest of your teeth. Cosmetic bonding is a great alternative for those who don’t want to wear braces. It’s also good for those concerned about veneers as bonding doesn’t harm the tooth enamel. Since it is a non-permanent procedure, the tooth is never compromised by the treatment.


Dental crowns can be placed to cover the portion of the gapped tooth to fix teeth spacing with a natural look fitted to each tooth. It allows you to close the gaps with a natural porcelain “cap” that perfects the look of your front teeth. This is perhaps a more extreme approach, as it does involve filing your tooth even more than is required for veneers.

However, it is also a more permanent solution. We make an impression of your tooth and place a temporary crown while you wait for your final crown to be made. Your crown is crafted at the lab and then we schedule an appointment to remove your temporary crown and cement your new crown in place.

What if I have gum disease?

If you are diagnosed with gum disease, the infection must first be treated before you receive cosmetic treatment to close your gap. Your treatment will vary based on the severity of your gum disease but would include scaling and root planing to help eliminate the bacteria causing the disease.

Can Anyone Receive Cosmetic Treatments for Diastema?

It depends on the cosmetic treatment you are considering. For example, veneers are not suitable for someone who tends to clench or grind their teeth, as they can be easily damaged. As mentioned, those with gum disease can’t receive treatment until their gum disease is resolved. We will assess your dental health and make the recommendations best suited to your needs.

To learn more about the causes and treatment for diastema, call Milltown Dental at (888) 250-8819 or contact us here.

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