Diastema: Everything you Need to Know 

Every time you see yourself in the mirror, do you find unaesthetic black triangles or excessive spaces between your teeth? If yes, you have a condition called diastema - or gaps between teeth. While it is normal to have slight gaps between adjacent teeth, excessive gaps can affect one’s smile and make eating and speech difficult. The good news is that dental diastema can be easily treated. In this blog, we discuss everything you need to know about diastemas and their management. 

What is Diastema?

A diastema is the presence of gaps between teeth. This gap can happen between any of your teeth, whether front or back. However, if the gap exists in the front teeth, it can significantly affect one’s smile and facial esthetics. 

What Causes Diastema?

There are several causes of diastema:

  • Normal Growth - in children, the appearance of teeth gaps is normal. It has been estimated that around 50% of kids aged between 6 and 9 years have gaps between their teeth, as both the milk and permanent teeth with different sizes are present in the mouth. However, these gaps normally close by themselves over time. 
  • Obstructions - if there is an obstruction between the path of eruption of a tooth, it will appear at an abnormal position leading to diastema. Similarly, if there is soft tissue attachment or an underlying cyst over the path of tooth eruption, it can also cause diastema. 
  • Parafunctional Dental Habits - bad habits such as thumb sucking, nail-biting, or finger sucking can also cause diastema. Furthermore, people with tongue piercing may also develop dental diastema as the stud may put pressure on the teeth and pull them apart, creating unwanted space. 
  • Gum Disease - individuals with chronic gum disease may also develop diastema.
  • Tooth Loss - premature tooth loss and failure to replace can also result in the development of diastema.  

Diastema Symptoms

The primary symptom of diastema is the presence of excessive gaps between the teeth. If the diastema exists between the front teeth, black triangles may also be observed between the gums and teeth, which significantly affect the smile and appearance. 

If the diastema occurs because of gum disease, the following symptoms can be observed:

  • Bright red gums 
  • Swollen gums 
  • Spontaneous gum bleeding 
  • Bad breath 
  • Loose teeth 

People with diastema often have difficulty speaking and have a distinct “lisp” in their voice. 

Diastema Treatment

The management of diastema depends on the underlying cause. Generally, two main treatment options are available; surgical/dental and cosmetic. 

  • Dental Braces - this is the most effective treatment as it treats the underlying issues. Your dentist will give you braces or clear aligners to close the tooth gap. 
  • Veneers or Bonding - if someone cannot afford orthodontic treatment or doesn’t wish to wait for many months for the orthodontic treatment to complete, a diastema may also be fixed cosmetically using veneers or cosmetics bonding. However, this only solves the aesthetic issue and does not address the underlying problem. 
  • Dental Implants - if a gap between the teeth exists because of a missing tooth, it can be fixed by placing an implant-supported prosthesis. 

Diastema Prevention

It may not be possible to prevent all types of dental diastemas. However, diastemas that occur due to bad dental habits can be avoided. For example, parents must observe their children for parafunctional habits such as thumb sucking or tongue thrust, as these are common causes of diastema formation. Besides, regular dental checkups go a long way in ensuring that your child does not develop bad dental habits and does not develop diastema.

How To Clean Retainers?

How To Clean Retainers?

The method of cleaning orthodontic retainers depends on their type:

  • Removable Retainers - removable retainers are easier to clean. Simply remove the appliance and scrub it with a toothbrush without toothpaste. For deeper cleaning, immerse it in lukewarm water containing soap and brush it thoroughly. It is not advisable to use toothpaste for cleaning retainers. You may also use a cotton swab to clean the deepest areas of the retainers. 
  • Fixed Retainers - since these retainers cannot be removed, you will have to use dental floss to clean them. Take a 6-inch piece and use a floss threader to clean between your teeth. Hold the free end of the floss with your fingers and the other with the floss threader. Once the floss is under the retainer wire, move it up and down between the teeth to the gumline.  Repeat this step for all the teeth. 

How To Make Retainers More Comfortable?

If you’re having trouble wearing your retainers, there are ways in which you can make them more comfortable:

    • Wear your retainers as prescribed - the more you use them, the more comfortable they will become with time. 
  • Medication - you may also take over-the-counter pain medication to reduce the discomfort. 
  • Utility Wax - if a sharp edge of a retainer is pinching on your soft tissues, contact your dentist to get it fixed. In the meantime, apply utility wax over the sharp edge to avoid soft-tissue injury. 
  • Soft Diet - eating a soft diet helps reduce the discomfort caused by retainers. 

How Long Does A Retainer Hurt For?

Immediately after getting your retainers, you may experience slight pain and discomfort for the next few days. However, as your mouth becomes accustomed to the new appliance, the discomfort should subside. If the pain persists after a few weeks, or if your retainer wires are impinging or injuring your lips or cheeks, you should consult your orthodontist to have them checked. 

Wearing dental braces is just half of the treatment process. The rest involves wearing retainers to ensure that your teeth remain perfectly straight and aligned, giving you a charming and healthy smile. As long as you wear your retainers per your orthodontist’s instructions, you don’t have to worry about your teeth going back to their previous positions.

What is a retainer?

How To Make Retainers More Comfortable?

If you have recently finished wearing braces or Invisalign aligners, your orthodontist might have given you removable or fixed retainers. Unfortunately, many orthodontic patients complain that their retainers are uncomfortable. But the good news is that there are ways in which you can make your retainers less painful and more comfortable. This article is for those who find their orthodontic retainer inconvenient and uncomfortable.

What Is A Removable Retainer?

According to the American Association of Orthodontists, an orthodontic retainer is an appliance that consolidates orthodontic treatment; it prevents your teeth from moving back once they have been optimally aligned with braces or aligners.

There are two main types of orthodontic retainers: removable and fixed retainers. Removable retainers are appliances made of clear acrylic resin that can be removed at the patient’s will. Removable retainers are designed to be worn over the teeth and simply provide resistance against unwanted movement of the teeth.
On the other hand, fixed retainers consist of a metallic wire bonded to the tongue-side (lingual or palatal) surfaces of the upper and lower teeth. Fixed retainers are typically prescribed when long-term retention is needed or for patients who frequently misplace or break their removable retainers.

How to Fix an Underbite?

An optimal alignment of the teeth and jaws is essential for enjoying an attractive smile and healthy dental function. Unfortunately, if the teeth are not aligned properly, it not only affects one’s smile and facial aesthetics, but can also create difficulty in eating and speaking. One such common tooth misalignment problem is an underbite. 

According to the American Association of Orthodontists, an underbite is a condition in which the lower jaw is pushed excessively forward and lies ahead of the upper jaw. Under normal conditions, the upper jaw lies slightly ahead of its lower counterpart. 

Like all other orthodontic issues, an underbite should be fixed as soon as possible. This is because long-standing cases of dental underbites can lead to various complications, such as excessive tooth wear, tooth sensitivity, teeth cavities, and temporomandibular joint problems. Besides, a common symptom is the typical “bull dog” face appearance. 

How to fix an underbite

The treatment of an underbite depends on the type and extent of the underlying issue. Some of the treatment options available for fixing an underbite include:

Interceptive Treatment 

This treatment involves detecting an orthodontic problem early during childhood and easy orthodontic appliances and other measures. These include: 

  • Orthodontic Appliances - if an underbite is because of skeletal reasons, such the overgrowth of the lower jaw, or the undergrowth of the upper jaw, dentists sometimes use palatal arch expanders along with a reverse-pull headgear to protract the upper jaw and bring it ahead of its lower counterpart. This treatment utilizes the growth spurt during puberty to redirect jaw growth. 
  • Surgical Removal of Milk Teeth - if a dentist detects a pattern of developing underbite in a child, they may extract one or more primary teeth so that their permanent successors grow straight and perfectly aligned. 

Adult Treatment Options for an Underbite 

  • Dental Braces - tooth braces are among the most commonly used and time-tested options for fixing various orthodontic issues, including underbites. 
  • Invisalign Aligners - Invisalign aligners offer an esthetically pleasing, comfortable, and convenient alternative to dental braces for fixing mild to moderate cases of dental underbites. 
  • Surgery - in cases when the underbite is because of improper alignment or excessive size-mismatch between the upper and lower jaws, dentists perform orthognathic surgery to fix their relative position and restore optimal tooth alignment. 

H2 Underbite Causes

An underbite can be caused due to various reasons:

  • Genetics - This is among the primary causes of an underbite. Some people are genetically predisposed to having underbites due to excessively large lower jaws or smaller upper jaws. 
  • Parafunctional Habits - bad dental habits like tongue-thrusting, nail-biting, and thumb-sucking can cause an underbite. Excessive pacifier use can also cause a dental underbite. 
  • Face and Jaw Injuries - injuries to the face of the jaws can alter tooth or jaw alignment, which can result in the development of an underbite. 
  • Facial and Jaw Tumors - tumors of the face of the jaws can also affect tooth alignment and jaw positioning and can cause an underbite. 

Untreated cases of dental underbite can cause long-term dental complications and impact one’s health and quality of life. But, the good news is that an underbite is treatable. So, don’t let your orthodontic problems affect your smile and self-confidence! Visit an orthodontist today and take your first step towards a beautiful, healthy, and confident smile.