Think of model Lauren Hutton, former football star and current celebrity Michael Strahan, and singer/songwriter Elton John. What do they have in common? A diastema, which is the professional term for a gap between the two front, upper teeth.
The American Dental Association (ADA) reports that up to 25% of American adults have some level of this trait, with Blacks having a higher percentage and males being more prone to the inherited trait than females.
Although this mostly genetic trait can be awkward for some adults, it is becoming less of an issue largely based on the celebrities who smile proudly with their diastema center-stage! In Ghana, Namibia and Nigeria, gapped teeth are perceived as attractive and a sign of fertility. In France, they are even referred to as “lucky teeth”.
Because a diastema is “front and center” between the two front teeth, even a slight gap is noticeable in most smiles. For some people, these gaps make them uncomfortable when smiling. Resolving this can be done in several ways.
Keep in mind that the method best for you may be based on the width of the gap to be filled. The key is to fill in the gap without creating teeth that are too wide, resulting in “bunny teeth.” To avoid this, it may be necessary to involve more than just the two gapped teeth.
Bonding is a cosmetic dental treatment where a tooth-colored composite resin is painted onto natural teeth. The material is carefully molded to create an appropriate shape and size to lessen the width between the two teeth.
Typically, bonding can be done in one visit with minimal numbing required. We begin by carefully matching the composite resin to the shade of your teeth. The surface of the teeth involved in treatment will be prepared and a conditioning material is applied so the bonding will adheres easily.
When the bonding is applied, the putty-like material is shaped and molded. An ultraviolet light is used to harden the bonding in place. Once your bite alignment is checked, it is then polished to give a natural sheen.
For front teeth, bonding is an affordable option that can quickly repair flaws. It does have its limits, though. Bonding material isn’t as strong as your natural teeth. If you bite your fingernails or chew on pens you risk chipping bonded front teeth. Too, if you smoke or drink coffee regularly, bonding more easily stains and may yellow over time.
An alternative is porcelain. Nothing in esthetic dentistry has the durability or longevity of porcelain. Porcelain veneers and crowns are also more resistant to staining and reflect light naturally with a tooth-like opalescence. Often, using four or six veneers can even out a gap while creating a more beautiful smile, which is the best option for a wide gap.
For some gaps between teeth, moving natural teeth into proper alignment through Invisalign is the best option. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a number of patients with diastemas cannot be treated with bonding alone. Before treatment of any kind, you should be evaluated for dental problems in addition to your gap such as crooked or crowded teeth or a misaligned bite.
Moving your teeth may not only close the gap, but allow you to have a healthier smile. Teeth that are in proper alignment are easier to keep clean and help you avoid problems associated with bite misalignment, including chips, broken teeth, jaw joint pain, ear ringing, worn teeth, dizziness, headaches, migraines, night-time clenching and grinding and sore jaw joints.
Because many adults dread the discomfort and awkward appearance of brackets-&-wires orthodontics, we offer Invisalign. These clear molds are removable for eating and brushing and are virtually undetectable when worn.
Begin by scheduling a no-cost consultation to discuss your options and what will work best. During this time, we can also discuss payment plans that can break treatment fees into affordable monthly payments. Call 910-254-4555 to schedule.