Diastema

 Vanessa Paradis - Photo by Getty images

Vanessa Paradis - Photo by Getty images

Diastema is a fancy name for a gap between teeth, most often between the two front teeth. There are a variety of reasons for this space, and treatment, if any, depends on the cause. 

First of all, it should be noted that diastema is most often a harmless condition when we’re talking about a gap between the two front teeth. To clarify, for this article, we don’t mean a gap caused by a missing tooth.

Sometimes this gap is not only charming but also can also give the person the ability to spit water a fantastic distance through their front teeth, a trick which, as it turns out, some people are unwilling to yield even to have the gap closed for cosmetic reasons. Anna Paquin, David Letterman, Lauren Hutton all have diastema, and Vanessa Paradis claims to be one of those who claims to be a formidable spitter.

 Lauren Hutton

Lauren Hutton

So, perhaps before the consideration of addressing reparation to the gap, the question has to be answered on whether or not it should be repaired at all. The decision to begin orthodontics for some conditions can start at a young as, as young as seven. When the two front permanent teeth emerge, it can be some time before the rest of the facial features fully develop. So, the decision to close the gap may come before adulthood due to the presence of another, unrelated condition.

The reason the repair of the gap might be part of the process is that orthodontia involves the entire mouth, not merely the upper or lower row of teeth. People who developed diastema as a result of improper swallowing will need to be retrained to swallow correctly, as well.

But, what about those who don’t have an orthodontic issue beyond the diastema?  The decision to close the gap can be put off for awhile, into adulthood in most cases. Waiting gives the diastema an opportunity to right itself as the teeth and jaw grow. 

 "I don't care if I will still be able to play the piano: will I still be able to spit?"

"I don't care if I will still be able to play the piano: will I still be able to spit?"

However, if there are other issues, or if the patient doesn’t care for the diastema, there are several ways to close the gap. The most common way to close the space is through orthodontia. However, veneers or bonding may also be used. If a person has a larger-than-needed or tethered labial frenum (the tissue which connects the upper lip to the gums), it will need to be surgically removed. 
 
If the gap is caused by periodontal disease, a dentist or even a periodontist will need to intervene to correct the underlying gum disease before the space can be fixed.  

Regardless of the underlying cause of diastema, is can be corrected if the patient is willing. Whether or not the patient is willing is another matter,  one which will have to be examined on a case-by-case basis.

If you want to talk about your diastema or any other dental condition, or just want to schedule a routine visit, please call our office at (623) 362-2550. We’ll give you the very best dental care we can!

Green Thumb Local