To most people, a gap between the teeth — known as diastema — is not an issue. They are common in adults and kids, and are generally situated between your front teeth. In a few cases, however, the gaps go way back to the molars and premolars.
Gapped teeth have been known to affect a person’s smile and speech. The effects of a gap, however, go far beyond cosmetic in most cases. It might become the primary cause of orthodontic issues and periodontal conditions. As such, you should not be fooled into assuming that the treatments offered by Tampa-based cosmetic dentistry clinics for gapped teeth are purely for cosmetic purposes. These are also aimed at boosting your overall oral health. You will appreciate the essence of correcting gapped teeth if you know what causes them in the first place.
Here are a few common causes of gapped teeth in kids and adults:
Excess Jaw Growth
Some people have a jaw that is too large for the growth of their teeth. The teeth in this instance will naturally have gaps since they cannot adequately fit the entire available space.
Gaps might be present in milk teeth since the teeth will remain the same size even as the jaw grows. In permanent dentition, however, the teeth grow larger as the jaw widens until the full adult size of the jaw is reached. If your jaw also grows faster than your teeth, then a diastema is the unfortunate eventuality.
In a few people, the growth of one or two permanent teeth for the replacement of milk teeth does not happen. Others will lose a tooth (or two) secondary to trauma or cavities and not bother getting a replacement tooth to fill the space. In both cases, there will be a space on the jaw and the remaining teeth will gradually spread out to fill it. As such, small gaps will develop throughout the teeth.
Thumb Sucking and Tongue Thrusting
Though these are common and normal childhood habits, they should not persist past a certain age. Most kids outgrow these habits by the time they turn three years old.
A continued thumb sucking or tongue thrusting habit in your child will cause their teeth to flare out and cause gaps gradually. As milk teeth are the determinants of permanent dentition, their permanent teeth will follow the same pattern. The prolonged use of a pacifier also has the same effect.
Some oral piercings like a tongue barbell can also lead to the formation of gaps in permanent teeth, which previously had none. This piece of jewelry will continually push against your teeth from behind. Over time, this pushing will cause the teeth to flare out and cause gaps.
There is nothing ordinary about the above causes of gapped teeth. In fact, more often than not, they cause other oral health issues in addition to the gaps between your teeth. It is, therefore, essential to get a dentist to evaluate the cause of your diastema and intervene appropriately.