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.