Having a perfect set of healthy teeth can help boost a person’s confidence. This is because they can smile without worries and feel they are attractive. However, this might not be the case for everyone as some may need to get extra care from the dentist to fix their teeth alignment. Some may think their teeth look different than others. Fortunately, in the world of medicine, there are ways on how to improve this condition. One of the issues that might bother some people with how their teeth look is the presence of diastema.

Diastema is a gap between the teeth. The gap in teeth can be among any teeth but the most visible one is the front teeth. The gap between teeth is wider than 0.5 millimetres. At times, the gap gets filled with the eruption of permanent teeth. In general, diastema does not pose harm to people but is often regarded as aesthetic or image issues.

There are several factors that can lead to diastema. This ranges from genetic to bad habits. The most common cause of diastema is the missing teeth resulting from underdeveloped or missing surrounding teeth of the upper teeth. At times, the gapped teeth result from the normal growth in children and is common between the ages of 6 to 8 years old. This gap usually disappears in most cases with the formation of upper canine teeth. The possibility of the hap increases if the shape, size and position of the teeth are unusual. Those with oversized labial frenum (muscle that extends from the inside of the upper lip to the gumline) are likely to develop diastema as it blocks the teeth from closing naturally. Bad habits such as biting lower lips and sucking the thumb can cause diastema in children. Tongue piercing in adults can invite diastema as the pierced stud disturbs the formation of front teeth. Bone loss resulting from periodontal disease (gum disease) can make the teeth loose and form gaps.

Since diastema often makes a person wary of their looks, some may look for treatment or ways to fix it. The question is, can diastema be fixed? Yes, it can be fixed. There are a number of treatments available to improve diastema. This includes braces which is the common one, veneers, dental implants and surgery. Treatment will depend on the cause of the diastema. The only way to know the cause of diastema is to get checked by a dentist as they can suggest which treatment suits best.

Braces are treatments that put pressure on the teeth to enable the teeth to come closer to one another. Often patients are required to wear a complete set of braces even if there is only one gap to fill. Alternative to braces, veneers or bonding is recommended if diastema is resulted from having smaller teeth. Veneers are typically custom-made pieces of porcelain to the surfaces of the teeth whereas dental bonding involves applying resin to the surface of the teeth. Dental implants are often recommended in case of missing teeth. Surgery is usually recommended for those with oversized labial frenum in a surgery procedure known as frenectomy. Gum disease treatment is given to diastema that is suspected from periodontal disease. This treatment usually involves removing tartar from gums to curb infection from leading to tooth loss.

You may be thinking that the only reason why diastema is treated is due to cosmetic purposes. However, some people might have more than just the visible gapped teeth. Symptoms such as discomfort when eating, bright red gums, swollen or tender gums, bleeding gums, receding gums, bad breath and loose teeth, may indicate gum disease that could be the cause for diastema.

It is not entirely possible to prevent all cases of diastema. However, diastema that is caused by gum disease can be prevented by practising oral hygiene such as brushing teeth twice daily, flossing daily and getting regular examinations by the dentist. For children, parents need to help the child to break the habit of thumb sucking and to correct the improper swallowing reflexes. Improper swallowing reflexes causes the tongue to press against the roof of the mouth or front teeth. This eventually pushes the front teeth forwards and develops a gap.

It can be concluded that diastema is the presence of spaces between the teeth. It is often visible on the front teeth. There are many factors that could lead to development of diastema. While it is not crucial to get treatment for diastema, most people will find it annoying as it could affect a person’s image and the way they smile. This may make them feel less confident in themselves. Treatments depend on the root of the problems. It is best to get checked by a dentist regularly and not to only wait when there are symptoms. Practising good oral hygiene can help mitigate gum disease from affecting and developing diastema.

Also read – Dengue Prevention.

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