30 Year Ago, I wish this had been around. Until I was about 30, I had a large gap between my teeth. I was terrified of braces for the gap, just another thing to make me different. I would have needed to relearn how to play the flute. Back then, it hurt to have braces. Yet, people made braces and gap teeth jokes, but they weren’t jokes to me.
Today, it’s not so bad. There are celebrities and models with gap teeth. It’s become a fashion statement. Today, teeth gaps are attractive. (Wish I knew that 30 years ago)
But, Is It Healthy?
What are your reasons for wanting to fix your (or your child’s) gap teeth? Leave us an answer in the comments below and we’ll write another post answering your concerns!
According to Colgate.com: “A diastema is a space or gap between two teeth. It appears most often between the two upper front teeth. However, gaps can occur between any two teeth.
A mismatch between the size of the jaw bones and the size of the teeth can cause either extra space between teeth or crowding of teeth." If the teeth are too small for the jaw bone, spaces between the teeth will occur. Thumb sucking tends to pull the front teeth forward, creating gaps.
If your tongue presses against your front teeth, the pressure can push the front teeth towards your lips. Periodontal disease is a big cause of gaps in older adults.
And of course, the time between a baby tooth falling out and an adult tooth growing can be a big space, but we don’t want to close that one.
So, How Do They Fix Gaps in Teeth?
What are the ways to fix the gap in front teeth without braces or pain?
- Teeth Gap Bands
- Dental Bonding
- Crowns & Veneers
Teeth Gap Bands
This is an affordable, quick, and low pain alternative to braces if all you need is to close a gap between two teeth.
The basic principle is that you slip one Teeth Gap band * around your tooth gap and sleep the night away. After several consecutive nights, the gap starts to close. You then wear the bands as needed in order to keep the gap closed. Results are seen in as little as a week with larger gaps closing in 3-6 months.
For the bands to work, the gap in your teeth need to be less than 3.5 mm and the rest of your teeth to be relatively straight. Placing undue pressure upon teeth that are not straight misaligns other teeth. You are also recommended to have a dentist’s approval for the bands. The bands are not recommended at all for children, baby teeth, twisted or misaligned teeth or for people with periodontal diseases.
Many websites have positive customer reviews showing that these bands work, are relatively pain free, and cost effective. Detractors often highlight further dental problems that the bands were never meant to fix in the first place.
For gaps that are a bit larger, or when a person wants a quick fix, tooth bonding is preferred. A special tooth-colored resin which is applied to the tooth then hardened using a special light. This bonds the resin to the tooth either to restore it or to improve the appearance of the tooth.
In just a few hours, teeth are back to normal. This procedure is most often used when a tooth is chipped or broken, although closing a gap is becoming more common. It is among the cheapest procedures used by dentist, and you’ll need to check locally for pricing. Expect to pay out-of-pocket for the procedure unless part of a medical repair.
Although the material used in dental bonding is somewhat stain resistant, it does not resist stains as well as crowns (see below). Bonding materials do not last as long nor are as strong as other dental procedures. Additionally, bonding materials can chip and break off the tooth.
There is no evidence that bonding lowers the quality of the tooth it’s attached to. Dentists confirm its safety and decades of use back this up.
In the short term, people are very positive about bonding. Long-term results vary. Since bonding isn’t meant to be permanent, some people are disappointed they need to redo the bonding later in life. Also, many people are disappointed the bonded part of the tooth discolors at a different rate as natural teeth.
Crowns & Veneers
This is the next step up from dental bonding. Crowns and veneers are two separate things for two separate purposes.
A porcelain veneer is a thin shell that is bonded to the front of the tooth (or teeth) that you are looking to fix. Placing veneers requires the removal of a small amount of your enamel so that the veneers fit properly and look natural without altering your bite. This is often used with bonding to create a uniform look.
Dental crowns are also a type of porcelain shell, but they are designed to fit over most of your tooth, which allows them to fix a number of functionality issues as well as cosmetic ones. Crowns are meant to fix damage. A tooth that has broken or cracked due to trauma or decay can be repaired by a crown but not by a veneer. Crowns are also useful for building up teeth that are causing problems with your bite and for supporting and protecting a tooth that has had root canal therapy. A bridge is a type of crown meant for several teeth.
Dental bonding may not last a lifetime, but crowns and veneers will. Of course, with better materials and more work, the price goes up. It will take a few visits to make sure everything goes properly, since a cast of your teeth need to be taken in order to make the veneer or crown properly. Contact a local dentist for price and leave a comment below to let us know what’s the going rate around the world.
Modern veneers are much better than the ones 30 years ago. Today, they are nearly indistinguishable from natural teeth. It’s hard to find anything less than a positive review online. Just be sure to use a qualified dentist. The biggest problems come from a poor procedure rather than the actual veneer.
Dental implants are replacement teeth. Implants can be fixed or removable replacement teeth (dentures – see below) that match your natural teeth.
If your gap is really wide, a full tooth wide, an implant is your best choice. Basically, a fake enamel tooth is surgically inserted into the gum or bone. Sometimes, the tooth is attached to surrounding teeth. This is a full dental procedure and can only be performed by dental professionals licensed and trained in the procedure.
Implants usually have a 98% success rate, but are more fragile than regular teeth. Undue pressure or trauma can easily dislodge an implant, but normal use will not. Once they get used to the tooth, most people can’t even tell the difference between the artificial tooth and their own natural teeth.
This may be the highest cost procedure. Unless the implant is for medical reasons, more insurances will not cover the procedure. It is the best and most long-lasting options. Most implants are received very well by reviews.
Additionally, patients must be committed to a higher level of oral care and dental visits. Smokers, people with endocrine problems (diabetes) or heart problems (high blood pressure or bleeding) are not recommended for implants.
A denture * is a removable replacement for missing teeth and surrounding tissues. Two types of dentures are available -- complete and partial dentures.
This is the most extreme gap. Generally, dentures are used when several teeth are removed and the health of the whole person or just the mouth is in question. For smaller gaps, they are the equivalent to removable implants.
Since this is a more extreme solution, and it often accompanies health issues, insurances often cover dentures.
Retainers are most often used after braces to keep the teeth in alignment while the mouth adjusts to not having braces. However, recently, orthodontic braces are being used more and more to slowly align teeth from the beginning.
There are three types of retainers:
- The most common is the Hawley retainer. It’s the most common type you may remember from your childhood after braces. It’s a thin, tongue-shaped removable tool that is molded to fit your mouth, with a wire that holds your teeth in position. This type of retainer is meant more to keep teeth in alignment rather than adjust them.
- The newest trend of retainers is the clear aligner-type trays (think Invisalign®). These retainers are custom-made of thin, transparent plastic that fit over your teeth to slowly move them into correct position. Kids like these better because no one can see them. Because they are plastic, clear aligner-types are prone to damage and not for people who grind their teeth. They also have to be replaced often as teeth are corrected. When eating is necessary, the retainer is removed to allow natural chewing and to avoid the crushing the retainer.
- The fixed retainers are especially good for lower front teeth. According to Lamont Jacobs Orthodontics: “A wire is bonded to the tongue side of the teeth to hold them in alignment. It may remain in place for months, or longer. It is used to keep teeth in place, not move them. This type of retainer is sometimes recommended when there's a high risk that teeth could revert to their former position.”
Each has their own cost *, although, in the end, they are quite similar. Each needs a dentist to monitor the use and frequent trips to the dentist. They also require a high level of oral care to avoid additional problems. For some people, retainers may be covered by insurances.
Most people seem to just love the clear aligner-type retainer. If your gap is part of a more complex problem, this seems to be the lowest cost fix.
This is the most invasive, painful, and costly route to realigning teeth. Sometimes, however, it is required.
Braces work by applying continuous pressure over a period of time to slowly move teeth in a specific direction. As the teeth move, the bone changes shape as pressure is applied. Newer “mini-braces” are much smaller than traditional braces and can be used in less severe cases.
Braces are most required when the actual bones of the jaw and mouth are in need of alignment. Used as the only resort years ago, they are now only used in the last case today.
Despite being the most painful and expensive option, the burden is reduced. Newer techniques have reduced the pain and the damaging looks. Many insurances are now fully covering braces, knowing it will save money in the long-term.
Before agreeing to braces, discuss the options with your dentist and orthodontist to see if other options would be more viable.
The first thing you need to do is be evaluated by a dentist to discover why the gap occurred. Don’t just assume it will grow out, there could be serious problems.
Then, follow-up with a specialist and review the options with them. Some of the options are not good for some people and doing it wrong will cost much more in the long-run.
In the 30 years since I first became aware of my gap, braces have evolved. The pain and humiliation has greatly decreased, so don’t throw that option out immediately. Follow your dentist’s recommendation and you can have a beautiful smile your whole life through.
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