Space Between Teeth: Causes and Treatment of Diastema
Diastema, also known as interdental space, relates to the space between two or more teeth. It is most commonly seen in the anterior teeth and sometimes in the posterior teeth.
However, in adults, the diastema is most likely permanent and requires orthodontic treatment for correction.
Causes of Diastema
Diastema has many different causes. The most common cause of diastema is the mismatch between the sizes of the teeth and the sizes of the jaw. A gap occurs when teeth are normal size but the jaw is too large, or if the jaw is of normal size but the teeth are too small for it.
A special case called peg lateral refers to the developmental defect of the lateral incisor that causes a gap between the lateral incisor and adjacent teeth (central incisor and canine).
Other causes of diastema include missing and unerupted teeth, oral habits (such as tongue thrusting and thumb sucking), periodontitis, mesiodens, and oversized labial frenum.
Meanwhile, oral habits such as tongue thrusting, inappropriate tongue support, and thumb sucking push the upper anterior teeth forward, creating an outward space.
Periodontitis refers to the advanced form of gum disease characterized by bone loss in addition to inflammation of the gums. The aggressive form of this disease causes rapid destruction of the supporting bone and the affected teeth become mobile.
Another cause of diastema is missing or small teeth. If for some reason the lateral incisors are missing, a gap will likely form between the two front teeth.
Oral Line Diastema Causes
Mobility causes cavities that tend to worsen over time without treatment for periodontitis. The labial frenum is a small band of soft tissue just above it. If large enough, the two upper central incisors can also cause diastema.
If this tissue extends far below its normal position and passes between the two central teeth, this prevents the teeth from naturally closing the space between them.
Finally, the mesiodens causes diastema in the same way as a large labial frenum grows behind the central incisors. Thus, it prevents the teeth from coming together and closing the gap.
Although diastema does not have any negative effects on health, most patients prefer correction for aesthetic purposes.
Orthodontic treatment is the most recommended method to close a diastema. Wires are attached to the upper and lower teeth to bring the teeth together and close the gap.
However, if the cause of the problem is a large labial frenum or mesiodens, the patient should have surgery before wearing braces. Otherwise, the problem may recur only after the device has been removed. The surgical procedure to remove the frenum is called frenectomy.
For small cavities, the patient may choose to place a composite restoration or crown instead of orthodontic treatment.
The gap is from a missing tooth. If so, tooth replacement options such as fixed bridges, removable dentures, and dental implants should be considered.
Following consultation, the involved teeth are splinted, braces fitted, or restored with a fixed bridge or denture.
Prevention of Diastema
When the cause of diastema is developmental defects, there is no way to avoid it. Orthodontic treatment should be preferred as early as possible. If periodontal disease is to blame, the solution is proper oral hygiene. This will prevent the gap from getting wider. Brushing and flossing can do a lot to stop the progression of periodontal disease.
The most logical thing to do for situations arising from oral habits is to quit such a habit.