Teeth gaps, also known as diastemas, are spaces or gaps between teeth. While they are a common dental issue, they can be a source of self-consciousness for some people, in which case you can consider treatment options to permanently fill the gap.
Diastemas usually run in families, with certain inherited tooth and jaw shapes leading to gaps between teeth. They generally don’t pose a significant health risk, and some cultures even consider a gap between their front teeth as a mark of beauty.
In the world of dentistry, though, diastemas can lead to problems with speech or chewing, particularly if the gaps are very large. Additionally, gaps between teeth can make it easier for food particles to become trapped, leading to an increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
In rare cases, very large diastemas may indicate a more serious underlying dental condition, such as a misaligned bite or gum disease.
As such, you may need to consult with a dental professional to determine the underlying cause of diastemas and to discuss your treatment options.
Causes of gapped teeth
Although diastemas usually seem to be hereditary, they can also form due to other factors such as:
- Abnormal growth patterns: If the teeth and jaw do not develop in proper alignment, gaps may form between the teeth.
- Missing teeth: If a tooth is missing, adjacent teeth may shift position, leading to gaps between the teeth.
- Habits: Habits such as thumb-sucking or tongue-thrusting can put pressure on the teeth and cause gaps to form.
- Gum disease: Gum disease can cause the gums to recede, exposing the roots of the teeth and creating gaps between them.
- Size of teeth and jaw: If the teeth are too small for the jaw bone, gaps may form between the teeth.
- Trauma: Trauma to the teeth or jaw can cause gaps to form as the teeth shift out of position.
Permanent ways to fill teeth gaps
If you’re concerned about your case of gapped teeth, either due to cosmetic concerns or some other problems, you should consult with a dental professional to determine appropriate treatment options.
Some of the ways that your dentist might recommend to fill teeth gaps permanently include:
1. Dental bonding
Dental bonding is a cosmetic dental procedure that can be used to fill gaps between teeth. It is a relatively non-invasive procedure that does not require any drilling or removal of tooth structure. It involves applying a tooth-colored composite resin material to the teeth and sculpting it to match the surrounding teeth, resulting in a more even and natural-looking smile.
Dental bonding is a relatively durable solution for filling gaps between teeth. The procedure requires only one appointment that takes one to two hours depending on the extent of the treatment. With proper care, the bonding material can last for several years before it needs to be replaced.
However, bonding material is not as strong as natural teeth and may chip or break if subjected to excessive force, such as biting down on hard objects. The material is also susceptible to staining and may require touch-up treatments or replacement over time. Additionally, bonding material is not suitable for larger gaps or more extensive cosmetic concerns and may not provide the long-term results of other cosmetic treatments such as veneers or orthodontic treatment.
2. Dental veneers
Dental veneers are thin, custom-made shells that are bonded to the front of teeth to improve their appearance. Veneers can be used to close small to moderate gaps between teeth and can last for several years.
Dental veneer placement typically require two appointments. During the first appointment, the dentist will prepare the teeth by removing a small amount of enamel and taking impressions of the teeth. The impressions are sent to a dental laboratory, where the veneers are custom-made. During the second appointment, the veneers are placed on the teeth using a special bonding agent. The entire process usually takes two to four weeks.
Though veneers take a bit of time, they provide a durable solution for filling gaps between teeth that can last for 10-15 years or even longer. However, veneers are not as strong as natural teeth and may chip or break if subjected to excessive force, such as biting down on hard objects.
Other considerations: Dental veneers are a more invasive procedure than bonding and require the removal of a small amount of tooth enamel. Additionally, veneers are a permanent solution that cannot be reversed once they are placed on the teeth. While veneers can provide long-lasting and natural-looking results, they are also more expensive than bonding and may not be covered by dental insurance.
3. Dental implants
Dental implants involve surgically placing a small metal post into the jawbone, which serves as a foundation for a replacement tooth. This is a more invasive and expensive option, but it provides a permanent, long-lasting solution for filling teeth gaps, making it an increasingly popular option for restoring missing teeth.
Dental implant procedures typically require several months to complete. After the initial consultation and implant placement surgery, the implant will need to integrate with the jawbone over a period of three to six months. Once the implant has fused with the jawbone, an abutment and crown will be placed on top of the implant during a second procedure. The entire process can take six months or longer to complete. Nevertheless, dental implants are a highly durable option for filling teeth gaps, with many implants lasting for decades with proper care.
Please note that dental implants require a surgical procedure to place the implant in the jawbone, which may not be suitable for all patients. Additionally, patients must have sufficient jawbone density and good overall oral health to be eligible for implant placement. It is also important to maintain proper oral hygiene and attend regular dental checkups to ensure the long-term success of the implant.
4. Orthodontic treatment
Orthodontic treatments, such as braces or clear aligners, can be used to fill teeth gaps by gradually shifting the existing teeth into the gap space. This is a longer-term solution that can take anywhere from six months to two years or longer, depending on the severity of the gap and the type of treatment used. Traditional braces typically take longer to achieve results, while clear aligners may produce results much faster.
Orthodontic treatment can provide long-term results for filling teeth gaps, as the teeth are gradually shifted into the correct position. However, it is important to maintain proper oral hygiene and attend regular dental checkups to ensure the long-term success of the treatment.
This option may not be suitable for all patients, particularly those with severe gaps or other dental issues. Additionally, patients must commit to wearing braces or clear aligners for the duration of the treatment, and retainers for the rest of their life, which can require lifestyle adjustments and regular maintenance.
Cost of filling gapped teeth permanently
The cost of any dental procedure depends on not only its complexity and the number of dental professionals who have to work on the case, but also on your location and extent of the treatment. Bonding is the fastest and most cost effective option with the cost of bonding for one tooth ranging from $300 to $600, though it’s also the least permanent treatment available.
The cost of veneers for one tooth can range from $800 to $2,500, while dental implants range from $3,000 to $5,000 per tooth or even higher. Keep in mind that the cost of implants can also be affected by additional treatments, such as bone grafting or sinus lift, that may be needed to support the implant.
With traditional braces you can expect to pay between $3,000 and $7,000, while clear aligners may cost between $3,000 and $8,000. However, some insurance plans may cover a portion of the cost.
In conclusion, teeth gaps are a common dental issue that can be addressed through various permanent treatment options. It is important to consult with a dental professional to determine the best option for your individual needs and goals, and to discuss any financing options to help you improve your smile.