SETH V. SENESTRARO, DDS, MS
Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics

A Diastema is No Disasta

Orthodontic terms are often as tongue-tying as people expect braces to be. But at Copper Creek, your source for clear braces in Portland OR, they aren’t! This is why we like to take time on our blog to discuss technical terms and how your orthodontist at Copper Creek creates your best and most beautiful smile.

So what is a diastema?

A diastema is a space between two teeth– or more. While it may be the focus of orthodontic correction, in some cases, a diastema is completely normal: for instance, herbavores have a diastema between the teeth at the front of their mouths and the teeth at the back, which helps them chew their food properly. They are less worried about senior prom pictures, however.

In humans, the most common diastema is found between the two front teeth, and it is also known by its colloquial and less-flattering name: gap-tooth. Having a diastema does not always mean it needs orthodontic work— in many cases, this dental organization has no negative impacts and is simply part of the unique character that every individual mouth has.

What causes a diastema?

A diastema can occur for several reasons. The simplest is the diastema left between two teeth when primary, or deciduous, teeth fall out. These usually resolve themselves when permanent teeth grow in and require no interventions.

Diastemas can occur due to a size discrepancy between two neighboring teeth, permanent teeth that never grew in– or erupted unevenly– or even just simple genetic inheritance. One reason we see diastemas is from an over-sized labial frenulum; the frenulum is the thin band of tissue attaching your gums to the mucosa of your lip.

Problems with diastemas

Again, the presence of a diastema does not necessitate orthodontic intervention. However, when a diastema causes problems, orthodontic work is a great solution. Problems most frequently seen are:

  • Trouble with speech (or learning to speak)
  • Trouble with eating
  • Cosmetic concerns

Treatment options

At Copper Creek Orthodontics, we approach diastemas with the same careful precision that we use in every treatment plan. First, we determine the cause of the diastema, and listen carefully to patient experience and concerns. If it appears that the diastema warrants orthodontic treatment, there are several options available:

  • Close the diastema via orthodontic treatment that moves the teeth
  • Veneers on the outside of the teeth can close the gap
  • Dental crowns, implants, or bridgework are all more in-depth treatments available
  • In the case of a large labial frenulum, we may recommend a frenectomy— this is an out-patient procedure that takes a matter of minutes

Bring your questions

If you think you have a diastema and want to know about your treatment options, schedule your appointment for a free consultation today!

Photo Credit: Unquabain via Compfight cc

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