“Malocclusions.” This word might sound a little scary, and yet, orthodontists often use it to define different teeth misalignment and incorrect relations between the maxillary and mandible.
Also, orthodontists refer to types and grades (levels) of malocclusions that can be subtle and require minor intervention, to combined and severe types that require surgery and the use of orthodontic appliances.
There are several reasons to prevent and fix malocclusions. Among the most concerning motives, misaligned teeth form hard-to-clean uneven and intricate surfaces.
Unclean surfaces accumulate food particles and debris, forming a breeding environment for bacteria. As bacteria grow in number, they form a shielding layer named biofilm.
Biofilm impregnates teeth protective coating named enamel, eroding it and penetrating further deep. As bacteria penetrates, it leaves an infectious and stenchy matter that can reach a tooth’s pulp and nerves.
The undesirable consequences of tooth decay include pulp damage that might require a dentist’s intervention by drilling a canal to the root. Also, advanced tooth decay cases might cause losing one or more dental pieces.
In addition, misaligned teeth might also cause gingival infections (gum disease) that might form infectious sacs inside the gums and eventually spread through the blood, impacting a patient’s overall health.
Orthodontic treatment also helps with specific cases of sleeping apnea, improves digestion because aligned teeth improve nutrients absorption, and has a positive cosmetic impact.
This article addresses teeth gaps, a type of malocclusion that produces a cosmetic concern in patients. First, we introduce the case with a clinical definition and then define orthodontics and other alternatives to fix this malocclusion.
What Is Diastema?
We have previously referred to a space between teeth. The clinical term for this malocclusion is diastema. Teeth spacing can occur in any part of the denture. However, diastema becomes a concern when it occurs on the top front teeth named incisors which are the most noticeable teeth at smiling.
Diastema does not distinguish between ages. Children with diastema might get their teeth fixed after baby teeth fall off and definite teeth sprout. However, diastema in adults requires professional intervention that includes several highly effective techniques.
Diastema is highly preventable. However, small cases depend on genetics. Prevention of diastema includes:
- Work on reducing and eliminating kids’ thumb-sucking past three years of age;
- Continuously practice good oral hygiene and visit a dentist at least twice a year and;
- Learn proper swallowing reflexes.
What Are the Orthodontic Options to Close a Gap Between My Teeth?
First, it is crucial to determine what is the cause of diastema. For instance, a gingival infection requires focusing on stopping the infectious process and secondarily on the teeth gap.
However, there are cases in which diastema has no connection to an infectious process and has only a cosmetic implication. Consequently, diastema diagnosis is crucial to control its underlying source, treating it according to a patient’s needs.
Once a doctor has discarded gum disease, the most recommended option is an orthodontic treatment that includes a complete set of braces. The braces mechanism consists of brackets cemented to teeth and adjustable wires that resemble the “U” jaw shape and connect to teeth through the brackets.
An orthodontist sequentially adjusts the wires, producing stress on teeth that are separated. Tension directs to each tooth in a mutually encountering direction. However, there is a risk of diastema reoccurrence. In such circumstances, an orthodontist might recommend wearing a permanent retainer.
Can Invisalign Help Close the Gap Between My Teeth?
From an orthodontic perspective, closing a gap between teeth is considered one of the simplest orthodontic malocclusions to fix. Again, wearing clear appliances might be a perfect solution to diastema.
The most recognized clear alignment system is Invisalign. Patients might opt to wear clear appliances to correct gapped teeth. Invisalign consists of a set of nearly invisible clear appliances that are custom designed for every patient.
Invisalign plastic trays are removable and work in stages, so they are replaced every two weeks according to your orthodontist’s recommendation. Invisalign perfectly suits a minor diastema case.
However, clear aligners might require complementary work with veneers and bonding to close a gap between teeth depending on the severity of the diastema malocclusion.
Concurrently, there might be severe gaps that can’t be closed with Invisalign. In those circumstances, your orthodontist might recommend wearing braces instead of any clear alignment system.
You can talk to your orthodontist and evaluate the best option for your diastema case. However, for “severe cases,” we advise you that the braces alternative produces lifelong results compared to any other option.
Can You Fix a Gap Without Braces?
Before entering into detail about orthodontic alternatives for diastema, it is essential to notice that treatment sometimes is unnecessary and might be done only for cosmetic reasons. In fact, treating diastema, as previously noted, is not a complex procedure, but it requires preventing follow-up as it might reoccur.
Braces are the most effective and recommended treatment for diastema. However, patients might feel discouraged by the time it takes to observe results. In those circumstances, you can discuss other cosmetic options to fix a gap between teeth with your doctor. Here we include a list of alternatives from the least invasive to surgery:
A doctor applies a tooth-colored resin to fill the gap between teeth. In appearance, teeth look like having a normal space allowing patients to floss. However, patients should consider this option does not last forever.
Veneers or Dental Bonding
Similar to composite resin, veneers include a tiny piece of porcelain that mimics tooth color cemented to your teeth’s surface. Another benefit of veneers is that a dentist might use them to fix tooth cracks or chips. Veneers are substantially helpful in undersized teeth diastema diagnoses.
Dental Implant (Dental Bridge)
Implants are also known as dental bridges. An implant is a more intrusive procedure in cases where a patient has a missing tooth. A doctor inserts a stainless-steel screw in the jawbone. The screw has a ceramic prosthetic tooth on top affixed with teeth on both sides to enhance support and durability.
Removable prostheses are known as crowns that can be removed, helping close a teeth gap.
A patient might require surgery in cases known as low frenum. The frenal attachment is a ligament connecting the upper lip and upper gums. Low frenum refers to the ligament reaching close to the teeth. In some cases, the ligament inserts between the two upper front teeth. Consequentially, low frenum requires surgery followed by orthodontic treatment.
In some cases, a cyst might erupt, or the gums above the upper incisors might overextend, causing diastema. A cyst removal and removal of excess gummy tissue also requires surgical intervention and a follow-up, including orthodontic treatment.
Gum Disease Control
Gum disease diagnosis is imperious before closing a teeth gap. Unfortunately, gum disease might be an invasive infection treated firstly with antibiotics to recede bacteria proliferation.
In some cases, your doctor might draw upon scaling, a procedure to remove bacteria from teeth and gums. Finally, your doctor might use a technique named root planing, smoothing the surface of the roots of teeth, eliminating bacteria, and preventing further buildup.
Surgical Intervention Due to Gum Disease
Gum disease might advance to the extent that tartar deeply accumulates within the gums. In those circumstances, a patient might be advised of a surgical procedure to remove tartar and get ahead with the regeneration of bone and tissue. This procedure might include flap surgery that exposes teeth roots to proceed with scaling and root planning effectively.
If the bone wears due to gum disease, a doctor might clean up tartar and then use donating bone tissue to reconstruct the bone near the damaged denture.
The soft tissue surrounding the damaged roots of teeth might also erode, exposing the roots. A doctor might use a donated graft from the palate and attach it to the affected area promoting its recovery.
There are also alternatives to treat deep gum disease, including tissue-stimulating proteins that enhance bone and tissue recovery. Accordingly, a bone might require some help to grow back. A doctor can also insert a unique fabric designed to separate bone and teeth, allowing teeth regeneration.